Sunday 10.06.2013 New York Times Digest


1. Dogs Are People, Too

“Dogs, and probably many other animals (especially our closest primate relatives), seem to have emotions just like us. And this means we must reconsider their treatment as property.”

2. Selling Secrets of Phone Users to Advertisers

“Drawbridge is one of several start-ups that have figured out how to follow people without cookies, and to determine that a cellphone, work computer, home computer and tablet belong to the same person, even if the devices are in no way connected.”

3. Deciding Who Sees Students’ Data

“It’s a new experiment in centralizing massive metadata on children to share with vendors, and then the vendors will profit by marketing their learning products, their apps, their curriculum materials, their video games, back to our kids.”

4. Mugged by a Mug Shot Online

“It was only a matter of time before the Internet started to monetize humiliation.”

5. Financial Literacy, Beyond the Classroom

“Whether in taking out a student loan, buying a house or saving for retirement, people are being asked to make decisions that are difficult even if they have graduate training in finance and economics.”

6. The Building Has 1,000 Eyes

“Debates about privacy versus security — from airport screening to phone-line tapping and Internet tracking — rage on and on. But in the singular world of New York real estate, there’s no contest. Security rules, and privacy concerns go out the window — the one with the camera attached. Big Brother, come on over and bring your friends.”

7. Howard Stern, My Literary Idol

“When asked to name the influences on my fiction and nonfiction, it’s become fairly customary, and perhaps a little pretentious, for me to cite the literary gods Franz Kafka, Samuel Beckett and George Orwell. And while it’s not untrue to say that these three legends, who broke such fertile ground in portraying the struggle of the alienated Everyman, made me want to be a writer, I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge a fourth artistic influence, one who might not come so readily to mind when thinking of literary inspiration but who is equally important to me: the radio host Howard Stern.”

8. Rich People Just Care Less

“A growing body of recent research shows that people with the most social power pay scant attention to those with little such power.”

9. Get Back, and Just Let Miley Cyrus Grow Up

“She’s experimenting with the shape of pop stardom — let her live.”

10. Both Hero and Villain, and Irresistible

“By trying to stop the government’s digital bots from taking over our lives, Mr. Assange would seem to be fighting on behalf of all mankind. He is Tom Cruise in Minority Report, Harrison Ford in Blade Runner and Matt Damon in Elysium. But Mr. Assange also echoes a less modern cinematic type, the lone wolves of paranoid ’70s cinema. As a man on the run, he brings to mind the C.I.A. analyst Robert Redford played in 3 Days of the Condor or the reeling Dustin Hoffman being chased through Marathon Man. You can go even further back and find an analogue in Frank Sinatra in The Manchurian Candidate.”

11. Delivering the News, All of It, in 2 Minutes

“The idea was to tell the entire history of news — from Paleolithic cave paintings 17,000 years ago to today — in under two minutes.”

12. Gathered Acts of an Auteur Provocateur

“Mr. Godard invented a new type of filmmaker: the movie intellectual. For him, cinema is a living culture, as well as a way of thinking.”

13. Terror That Melts From the Screen

“Though House of Wax was not Vincent Price’s first horror film, it was the movie that established this gaunt, Southern character actor as a major figure in the genre. Unlike Atwill, whose sculptor is wholly unsympathetic, Price is able to balance menace with vulnerability, turning the deranged artist — his face horribly disfigured, via some highly creative makeup by George Bau — into a victim as much as a villain. This combination had been the secret behind Boris Karloff’s incarnation of Frankenstein’s monster, but Price adds an oddly effete, foppish quality to the characterization, influenced perhaps by Clifton Webb, with whom Price had appeared in Otto Preminger’s 1944 Laura. Price would continue to play variations on this character through the end of his career, becoming a star in the process.”

14. Seeing Double: Van Gogh the Tweaker

“In the 19th century, when the academy ruled, making copies played a central role in professional art training. Students often worked for years carefully copying plaster casts of ancient sculptures before they were allowed to make an original painting. Some never went on to do anything else. But during the 20th century, this practice fell into disrepute. It came to be viewed as anti-artistic. At its most extreme, copying can easily drift into forgery, a criminal act.”

15. The Dating Scene? Hip, With a Bit of ‘Minnesota Nice’

“Everybody wants to couple up with somebody and spend the rest of their life with that person,” he said. “But how do we get to that point?”

16. Twitter Bios and What They Really Say

“The Twitter bio is a postmodern art form, an opportunity in 160 characters or fewer to cleverly synopsize one’s professional and personal accomplishments, along with a carefully edited non sequitur or two. It lets the famous and the anonymous, athletes and accountants, surreal Dadaists and suburban dads alike demonstrate that they are special snowflakes with Wes Anderson-worthy quirks.”

17. Chinny-Chin-Chins? Maybe It’s the Software

“The discomfort of FaceTime is that you see your own face when you least expect it: uncomposed, unadorned. It’s the shock we have all had when we go to snap that gorgeous tangerine sunset, and instead are confronted with a deer-in-the-headlights selfie because we forgot to turn the camera’s rotating lens back to its normal position. I’m sure this is really nice for Gisele Bündchen. The rest of us could do without this pleasure.”

18. A Hotel Room With 140 Characters

“The hotel bills itself as the first to create such an immersive Twitter getaway, putting it among a handful of properties that are embracing glued-to-your-smartphone experiences. At the moment, it’s still far more common for travel professionals to peddle digital detox vacations.”

19. Malcolm Gladwell: By the Book

“I have — by conservative estimate — several hundred novels with the word ‘spy’ in the title.”

20. Acquired Tastes

“To this pair of experiments, Bering adds the case of Lucy, a chimp raised more or less like a human child in a psychologist’s home in the 1960s and ’70s. She developed no interest in male chimps. ‘Once she’d blossomed into a young adult,’ as Bering tells it, ‘a favorite hobby of Lucy’s was masturbating to the nude human male centerfolds from the latest issue of Playgirl magazine by carefully spreading out the pages on the floor and then placing her swollen genitals on the image of the man’s penis.’”

21. Let’s Read About Sex

“It is not difficult to write about sex. It is impossible.”

22. Rosedud

“No adjective I know fully conveys the comprehensive artistic disaster that is The Room.”

23. The Price of Equality

“The dominant narrative of middle-class women seeking to combine fulfilling jobs with more quality time for family clashes with that of poorer women, who have long worked for pay because they had to. Stereotype-busting innovations like shared parental leave and shared part-time working arrangements between parents are not just cultural propositions. They are luxuries that only relatively well-off couples can afford.”

24. Sex Lives

“A sexual freedom that organizes humans into porn search terms seems to trade one kind of confinement for another.”

25. What’s the Most Erotic Book You’ve Ever Read?

“Judy Blume’s novel Forever….”

26. s Miguel Cabrera the Hero of the Post-Steroid Era?

“Cabrera resists watching too much video of opposing pitchers because, he told me, he fears that the alternate perspectives of the pitchers’ previous approaches could throw him off in the real-time context of a game. Cabrera also hates pitching machines. ‘I can’t hit it,’ he says. ‘Because you don’t have time. They throw the ball by you — woomph.’ This is puzzling to me; pitching machines, after all, usually deliver the ball considerably slower and straighter than real Major League players. ‘But you don’t see arm action,’ Cabrera insists. In fact, pitching machines cannot help him hone what may be his greatest advantage. In a live at-bat, he can do the bulk of his mental work before the ball leaves the pitcher’s hand, recognizing the pitcher’s grip, analyzing the arm angle and even picking up slight variances in his leg kick in the fractions of a second before a 90-something-mile-an-hour fastball whizzes past the plate.”

27. Daniel Radcliffe’s Next Trick Is to Make Harry Potter Disappear

“Radcliffe’s pleasures can veer into compulsions: he often chain-smokes cigarettes, pounds Diet Coke, recently kicked a Red Bull addiction and spends hours, into the early morning, on, pursuing an obsession with American football he cultivated during ‘How to Succeed.’ ‘I probably know every starting player’s name in the league,’ he told me. ‘Actually, I don’t know why I’m being modest, I definitely know every starting player.’ He records episodes of ‘Jeopardy!’ when he’s in New York and watches them before he goes to sleep.”

28. Why Are There Still So Few Women in Science?

“I was dismayed to find that the cultural and psychological factors that I experienced in the ’70s not only persist but also seem all the more pernicious in a society in which women are told that nothing is preventing them from succeeding in any field. If anything, the pressures to be conventionally feminine seem even more intense now than when I was young.”

29. And Then Steve Said, ‘Let There Be an iPhone’

“It’s hard to overstate the gamble Jobs took when he decided to unveil the iPhone back in January 2007. Not only was he introducing a new kind of phone — something Apple had never made before — he was doing so with a prototype that barely worked. Even though the iPhone wouldn’t go on sale for another six months, he wanted the world to want one right then. In truth, the list of things that still needed to be done was enormous. A production line had yet to be set up. Only about a hundred iPhones even existed, all of them of varying quality. Some had noticeable gaps between the screen and the plastic edge; others had scuff marks on the screen. And the software that ran the phone was full of bugs.”

30. When Meta Met Data

“From the bowels of our military-industrial wormhole, meta has re-emerged as metadata: humorless, phlegmatic, oppressive. It morphed from its jokiness, its playfulness, its metaphysical possibilities into something harsh, stern and unyielding. Metadata is implacable, unreasoning, unironic. As abstract as meta once was, metadata is painfully, unamusingly, unentertainingly real, even while it’s also unfathomable and therefore abstract. It’s an abstraction made concrete by its implications: the data, whatever that data is, can be used against us. It’s threatening, but we’re not sure exactly why. It’s endless; we can only stop it if we ourselves cease existing. And where’s the funny in that?”

31. Why I Silence Your Call, Even When I’m Free

“These days, I hardly ever pick up. Most of my daily phone-based exchanges are conducted via text and messaging on social-media platforms. With those, I’m rapid-fire on the turnaround. Every ping signaling a text or swoosh alerting me to a Twitter direct message feels like a tiny gift in waiting. The trill of an unexpected incoming call, on the other hand, feels like a potential demand on my time and attention.”

32. When It Comes to Brows, Thin Is Not In

“Eyebrows serve the face’s highest function — that of communication, even seduction. Eyebrows show interest, engagement and understanding. Raising, furrowing or shifting them ever so slightly registers and reciprocates attention. Why, then, do so many women still insist on paring theirs down to skinny crescents, the sort of barely-there lines popularized by film stars in the 1930s and again by waifish models in the 1990s?”

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