Sunday 11.17.2013 New York Times Digest

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1. You’re So Self-Controlling

“A failure of self-control may not be a failure so much as a reasoned response to the uncertainty of time.”

2. Growing Clamor About Inequities of Climate Crisis

“From the time a scientific consensus emerged that human activity was changing the climate, it has been understood that the nations that contributed least to the problem would be hurt the most. Now, even as the possible consequences of climate change have surged — from the typhoons that have raked the Philippines and India this year to the droughts in Africa, to rising sea levels that threaten to submerge entire island nations — no consensus has emerged over how to rectify what many call ‘climate injustice.’”

3. Reaching for Silicon Valley

“On one side are universities that want to make money from faculty research. On the other are commercial interests that don’t always play by the academic rules. In the middle are people like Dr. Laskar, an ambitious man with one eye on Silicon Valley and the other on his academic work in Atlanta.”

4. Caught in a Revolving Door of Unemployment

“She is a 53-year-old college graduate who worked steadily for three decades. She is now broke and homeless.”

5. Still on Facebook, but Finding Less to Like

“Is it just me, or is Facebook fading?”

6. In a North Face Jacket, a Reversible Appeal

“Try this: the next time you’re in a restaurant or a public place start looking around and count the North Face apparel.”

7. Sunday Dialogue: Academia’s Two Tracks

“It is not surprising to see the two-track system defended by those who profit from it the most.”

8. The Insanity of Our Food Policy

“For the putative purpose of balancing the country’s books, the measures that the House Republican caucus is pushing for in negotiations with the Senate, as Congress attempts to pass a long-stalled extension of the farm bill, would cut back the meager aid to our country’s most vulnerable and use the proceeds to continue fattening up a small number of wealthy American farmers.”

9. Footage of Death Plays On in Memory

“What Zapruder made, after all, was not a Vine or a YouTube post, but a film. This is partly a technical distinction, a matter of photochemical processes and separable frames as opposed to bits of digital information. For a dozen years after it was shot, the film was unseen by the public, an almost unthinkable fate now. But these material, technological facts are inseparable from the film’s meaning, which remains a singularly potent topic of argument.”

10. A Daring Film, Silenced No More

“It takes the view that homosexuality isn’t a sickness or a pathology, it’s in fact just another expression of human sexuality. It’s the kind of enlightened theory that you wouldn’t see in this country probably until the ’70s or ’80s.”

11. Fairy Tale Ending in the Horror Realm

“His re-emergence mirrors stories in recent documentaries about minority artists unaware of their acclaim among mostly white fans. Think of Sixto Rodriguez, the reclusive Hispanic musician in the Oscar-winning Searching for Sugar Man, or the three black brothers in a ’70s rock group at the center of A Band Called Death. Like those artists, Mr. Turner turned the tables on racial conventions, in this case for horror movies, by casting black actors and shooting in black neighborhoods in Chicago and Alabama, where Ms. Jones was visiting relatives. His fans, however, have been the bread and butter of the modern horror genre: white and young.”

12. Trying to Outrace Scientific Advances

“His series’s premise draws on the ‘Singularity’ theories of the futurist Ray Kurzweil, who forecasts the merging of flesh, blood and minuscule nanobot devices into self-healing man-machine hybrids.”

13. The ‘Biggie’: A Tainted Status Symbol

“In 1989 Michael Eugene Thomas, a 15-year-old from Maryland, was strangled to death over a pair of Nike Air Jordans. Other crimes were committed over Fila sneakers, Avia high-tops and Triple Fat Goose jackets. Today, teenagers are targeted for their iPhones.”

14. Heroes and Crusaders

“At one point, Taft leads a traveling congressional delegation of 80 people on a three-month mission to the Philippines and the Far East. ‘In the evenings, guests enjoyed formal dances, sleight-of-hand performances, mock trials and pillow fights.’”

15. The Believer

“The particular pleasure of life in Iowa City rests not so much in the fact that the girl beside you on the bus or behind you in line might well be pondering a great and turbulent tradition of thought and belief, and finding new language to explore it. This could be true anywhere. It is that here the privilege of hearing or seeing her thoughts as fiction or poetry, even seeing them emerge and develop, is widely shared.”

16. People of the Book

“What began as an academic interest in Islamic law and religion yielded a fascination with Islamic culture, which disposed him to include Muslims in his expansive vision of American citizenship.”

17. Upper Atmospherics

“The Victorian railway would mean iron, steam, noise, power and speed, as Turner envisaged in his painting. It would bring ‘railway time,’ and a form of mass transport which was both a vital means and a literary symbol of industrialization. By contrast, ballooning would come to be seen as essentially bucolic, even pastoral. It was silent, decorative, exclusive and refreshingly unreliable: a means to mysterious adventure rather than a mode of mundane travel.”

18. How Do We Judge Books Written Under Pseudonyms?

“The critical urge to see family resemblances in an author’s work arises from a psychological insight: The creative mind is, like all minds, coherent, even if its coherences aren’t apparent. Like a psychotherapist, the critic looks for patterns, themes and repetitions not only within a work but across an artist’s career in order to uncover the hidden unities. Sometimes, the connections appear clear, and seem to yield obvious conclusions: Euripides wrote so many plays about emotionally extreme mothers and wives (Medea, Phaedra) that ancient biographers assumed he had a vulgar mom and a cheating missus. But when the connections are subtler, the critic-as-therapist has to work harder — with, perhaps, even more intriguing results.”

19. Switzerland’s Proposal to Pay People for Being Alive

“He knows it sounds a bit crazy. He thought the same when someone first described the policy to him, too.”

20. What Is the Value of Stolen Art?

“As long as there is a belief among criminals in the enduring willingness of parties from the legitimate art world to retrieve their property, a stolen painting has currency.”

21. Look Out, It’s Instagram Envy

“If Twitter is the street, Facebook the suburban-sprawl mall, and Pinterest some kind of mail-order catalog, Instagram is the many-windowed splendor of a younger Bergdorf’s, showing all we possess or wish for, under squares of filtered glass, each photographic pane backlit 24/7.”

22. A Dual Review of What’s New, Starring Gay Talese and Juliette Lewis

“I write with a pencil with a strong eraser, then I graduate to a Montblanc pen, which I have several of, and then I go to a typewriter.”

23. The Professional Women Who Hunt, Shoot and Gut Their Dinners

“As the sunset talk goes on, it becomes clear that attending the Girl Hunter weekend is only partly about getting back to nature; much of the appeal has to do with getting away from the grind.”

24. A Road Trip Through Alexander Payne’s Nebraska

“Payne wants to make a Nebraska-set comedy with Mexican-immigrant major characters speaking Spanish.”

25. In Myanmar, Retracing George Orwell’s Steps

“Orwell’s great trilogy of novels (Burmese Days, Animal Farm and 1984), she contends, presciently track the development of Burma — a colonial society transformed, through independence and the socialist military coup in 1962, into a version of Animal Farm, and then 1984.”

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