Sunday 10.27.2013 New York Times Digest

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1. The Information-Gathering Paradox

“The Internet industry, having nudged consumers to share heaps of information about themselves, has built a trove of personal data for government agencies to mine — erecting, perhaps unintentionally, what Alessandro Acquisti, a Carnegie Mellon University behavioral economist, calls ‘the de facto infrastructure of surveillance.’”

2. Few Problems With Cannabis for California

“Warnings voiced against partial legalization — of civic disorder, increased lawlessness and a drastic rise in other drug use — have proved unfounded. Instead, research suggests both that marijuana has become an alcohol substitute for younger people here and in other states that have legalized medical marijuana, and that while driving under the influence of any intoxicant is dangerous, driving after smoking marijuana is less dangerous than after drinking alcohol.”

3. Gang Rape in India, Routine and Invisible

“You don’t know what a bastard I am. You’re not the first girl I’ve raped.”

4. A Library of Classics, Edited for the Teething Set

“Booksellers say that parents are flocking to these books, even if the idea that a 2-year-old could understand Moby-Dick seems absurd on the face of it. A toddler might not be expected to follow the plot, but she could learn about harpoons, ships and waves, with quotes alongside (‘The waves rolled by like scrolls of silver’).”

5. Living in a World of Fantasy Can Be Dehumanizing

“Along the way, people become objects. Their humanity is lost, as is ours.”

6. The E-Cigarette Industry, Waiting to Exhale

“If the NJOY and a regular cigarette look similar on the outside, the inside is another story. Inside the e-cigarette’s polycarbonate tube casing is an integrated circuit, a small computer chip. Then comes a lithium-ion battery and a wick wrapped in cotton soaked in a mixture of nicotine and a carrier liquid of glycerol and propylene glycol. The battery is turned on when the user drags on the stick, heating the gadget’s inside to around 180 degrees and turning the nicotine into vapor. When inhaled, it leaves the throat with an ‘ambient feel,’ Mr. Weiss calls it — a caress, not the desired throat hit.”

7. Rentals That Let You Fly the Coop

“Rent the Chicken is one of a handful of backyard-chicken rental businesses that have cropped up in states around the country, including Michigan, Massachusetts and Maryland.”

8. Slaves of the Internet, Unite!

“As an older, more accomplished, equally unsuccessful artist, I beseech you, don’t give it away.”

9. Single Mothers With Family Values

“Feminism fails to resonate with many of the women who seem most likely to embrace it.”

10. Scent and the City

“The therapeutic properties of scent have been cultivated since antiquity. They were a particular fascination of medieval monks in their cloistered gardens. Now modern science is revealing the wisdom of ancient practices.”

11. What the Pollen Says

“Drought is both a cause of cultural disturbance and a cause of other causes. It induces a cascade of changes, disrupting agriculture, trade and social cohesion. The coherence that produces a civilization can swiftly fall apart under those pressures, whether it occurs in the Middle East in the Late Bronze Age or in the American Southwest in the 12th century, when the people known as the Anasazi reached their cultural peak and then collapsed.”

12. Seeing You Seeing Me

“It isn’t sex per se that makes Blue Is the Warmest Color problematic; it’s the patriarchal anxieties about sex, female appetite and maternity that leach into its sights and sounds and the way it frames, with scrutinizing closeness, the female body.”

13. Disturbing Aliens, Some From Space

“Soon after the war, Welles himself played one of those vast, cool and unsympathetic intellects in The Stranger, a 1946 production that remains Welles’s most seriously underestimated work. The Third Reich may have fallen, but for Welles, Nazi ideology remained a living threat, as embodied by his character, Franz Kindler — an escaped Nazi official who has invented a new identity for himself, as a kindly teacher at a boys’ school in Connecticut, where, as the film begins, he is about to be married to the tremulous, naïve daughter (Loretta Young) of a Supreme Court justice.”

14. Gay Couples, Choosing to Say ‘I Don’t’

“Now that same-sex couples in 14 states have all the rights and responsibilities of straight married couples, gay couples are rushing to the altar, right? Not exactly. Plenty of gay couples do not want to marry, and their reasons are as complex — and personal — as any decision to wed.”

15. Ronan Farrow: The Youngest Old Guy in the Room

“Despite his waggish social-media presence, he is guarded about his private life, suggesting a persona more carefully calibrated than he lets on.”

16. Baseball Pants, a Sore Sight for Eyes

“The pajama look is dumpy and sloppy.”

17. What’s Behind the Notion That Nonfiction Is More ‘Relevant’ Than Fiction?

“Because we are less sure of what fiction is ‘saying,’ we are less pre-emptively defended against it or biased in its favor. We are inclined to let it past our fortifications. It’s merely a court jester, there to amuse us. We let in the brazen liar and his hidden, difficult truths.”

18. I Am Woman, Watch Me Hack

“A study financed by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media found that recent family films, children’s shows and prime-time programs featured extraordinarily few characters with computer science or engineering occupations, and even fewer who were female.”

19. Welcoming Art Lovers With Disabilities

“In 2010, about 56.7 million people, or 18.7 percent of the population, had some level of disability, according to the Census Bureau. And both the number and percentage of disabled Americans are expected to increase in coming years because of the aging of the population, greater longevity and more cases of certain types of learning disabilities.”

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