Sunday 11.10.2013 New York Times Digest

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1. Outsource Your Way to Success

“There is an opportunity cost for every hour consumed by these tedious, nonproductive tasks; there exists some higher-value activity you could be spending your time on instead.”

2. Con Men Prey on Confusion Over Health Care Act

“When it comes to managing irresistible new technologies, people tell themselves they are prepared. Denial is a great enabler, Dr. Nass found.”

3. A Founder of Twitter Goes Long

“Broadly speaking, Medium is a blogging platform, meaning it’s a place for people to write and read posts. And Mr. Williams, as its C.E.O., hopes that it will allow thoughtful, longer-form writing to flourish. Mr. Williams frankly acknowledges that the medium of Medium is not new. In fact, he says he’s reaching back to the once-du jour notion of blogging because, in the frenzy to build social communications tools, something has been left behind: rationality.”

4. They Loved Your G.P.A. Then They Saw Your Tweets.

“As certain high school seniors work meticulously this month to finish their early applications to colleges, some may not realize that comments they casually make online could negatively affect their prospects.”

5. The Co-Villains Behind Obesity’s Rise

“Because gut bacteria can also spread among people in close proximity, perhaps the obesity epidemic really is, well, an epidemic?”

6. A Cure for the Allergy Epidemic?

“Depending on the study and population, the prevalence of allergic disease and asthma increased between two- and threefold in the late 20th century, a mysterious trend often called the ‘allergy epidemic.’”

7. The Death of Letter-Writing

“A less remarked upon and equally worrisome question is what the death of letter writing — and its replacement by emailing — is doing to the process of creative writing itself.”

8. Fear of the Dark

“It is one of those low-probability, high-consequence events that every once in awhile scares the bejesus out of us.”

9. The 21st Century Silver Spoon

“The top 1 percent seek to impress more through subtlety than ostentation.”

10. Is It O.K. to Kill Cyclists?

“When two cars crash, everybody agrees that one of the two drivers may well be to blame; cops consider it their job to gather evidence toward that determination. But when a car hits a bike, it’s like there’s a collective cultural impulse to say, ‘Oh, well, accidents happen.’”

11. The Sex Toys in the Attic

“Disposing of sex paraphernalia — actually all those embarrassing items you have stashed around the house — is something every boomer should be concerned about. The days are dwindling down to a precious few and some of you have a nasty cough. Do you want the people clearing out your house, particularly your children, to find those feathery, metallic, rubbery, polymer blend items you ordered one drunken night a few months after you’d been forced to take early retirement?”

12. How I Helped Teachers Cheat

“Students cheat because so much is at stake: good grades, good college, good pay, a good future. Teachers do it for the same reason: Their jobs, their mortgages, and the well-being of their families are all on the line.”

13. Adam Driver, an Unlikely Face on TV or in Fashion

“He’s part poet, part rhinoceros and part Neanderthal.”

14. How the Internet Has Changed the R.S.V.P.

“A lot more people R.S.V.P. than show up because it’s so easy to R.S.V.P.”

15. Sherman Alexie: By the Book

“I would love to go on a first date with Dorothy Parker and get verbally eviscerated.”

16. Shades of Influence

“A gay black man, Als portrays gay black men’s longing to cherish what they cannot sexually love, the putative opposite of themselves, yet the emblem with which they deeply identify: white girls.Als admires and loathes white girls, mocks and mimics white girls, is ignored by white girls, is depended on by white girls, is perceived to be a white girl. ‘White girls,’ he shows, is not just literal people. It’s a state of mind, an art of being.”

17. Lonely Planet

“Plans for an ambitious NASA project known as the Terrestrial Planet Finder, which has the power to inspect distant planets, have collapsed, partly because astronomers could not agree on which of several challenging technologies to adopt.”

18. Overt and Covert

“Anyone wanting to know why the United States is hated across much of the world need look no farther than this book.”

19. What Would Aldous Huxley Make of the Way We Consume Media and Popular Culture?

“Despite its doomsday title, Postman’s surprisingly subtle book has largely held up over the years, whereas Brave New World now reads like melodramatic tragedy as well as farce.”

20. Who Made That College Application?

“It wasn’t until private colleges opened their admissions to public school students that anyone saw the need for an application. There were more students than the schools could serve, and administrators noted with dismay that selecting based on academic merit alone dangerously increased the percentage of Jewish students.”

21. Where Have All the Sopranos Gone?

“There are scholars who say that in Bach’s day, some boys’ voices didn’t change until as late as 17. Now boys’ voices are changing earlier, a lot earlier. Medical records tracking puberty through history do not exist, but Joshua Goldstein, chairman of the demography department at the University of California, Berkeley, has analyzed mortality patterns among boys, which can show increased risk-taking and, by extension, the onset of puberty. His research suggests that the age of puberty for boys has dropped, on average, 2.5 months a decade since the mid-1700s.”

22. The Great Old-Fashioned Debate

“As they’d say in Brooklyn, I can’t bat in your league. I’m a plain, ordinary guy from Omaha, Nebraska. Just an old-fashioned, everyday Middle Westerner.… But you’re streamlined. You’re today. Sister, I was raised amongst the grasshoppers, I am strictly from corn.”

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