Sunday 02.03.2014 New York Times Digest

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1. Severe Drought Has U.S. West Fearing Worst

“We are on track for having the worst drought in 500 years.”

2. Chasing Their Star, on YouTube

“Once an outlet for zany antics and animal videos, YouTube has more recently sought to attract the kind of high-quality programming that advertisers will want to buy against. To do that, it has been providing resources and incentives to help amateur video makers step up their game.”

3. When No One Is Just a Face in the Crowd

“Facial recognition technology, already employed by some retail stores to spot and thwart shoplifters, may soon be used to identify and track the freest spenders in the aisles.”

4. That Neurotic on the Team? Give Him Time

“Research suggests that the more anxious and withdrawn among us tend to gain respect over time at work, while more outwardly confident extroverts lose some of their initial esteem.”

5. Get Some Sleep, and Wake Up the G.D.P.

“The problem is very simple: Many of us need more sleep.”

6. When Pedestrians Get Mixed Signals

“Nowadays, the word connotes an amorphous urban nuisance. In fact, the term once referred to country bumpkins (‘jays’), who came to the city and perambulated in a way that amused and exasperated savvy urban bipeds. As the historian Peter Norton has documented, the word was then overhauled in the early part of the 20th century. A coalition of pro-automobile interests Mr. Norton calls ‘motordom’ succeeded in shifting the focus of street safety from curbing the actions of rogue drivers to curbing rogue walkers. The pedestrian pushback was shortlived: An attempt to popularize the term ‘jay driver’ was left behind in a cloud of exhaust.”

7. Scribbling in the Margins

“The jottings we make in the books we own may well be among the highest tributes we pay to authors.”

8. Ashes to Ashes, but First a Nice Pine Box

“It’s pretty much impossible to feel anger at someone for driving too slowly in front of you in traffic when you’ve just come from sanding your own coffin.”

9. Scientific Pride and Prejudice

“To deal with the problem of selective use of data, the scientific community must become self-aware and realize that it has a problem. In literary criticism, the question of how one’s arguments are influenced by one’s prejudgments has been a central methodological issue for decades.”

10. Building a Harley Faster

“Organizing a nonunion plant does not guarantee manufacturing success, but for certain companies — with strong brand associations, customizable product lines and world-class equipment and processes — union workers can be not a cost but an asset.”

11. Who Made That First-Person-Shooter Game?

“We’d watch people creeping around a corner, turning with the arrow keys, and then a door would open, and there would be a big troll right there, and people would scream. They would literally fall out of their chair or jump away from the keyboard. It was a reaction that we’d never seen in any other form of video-gaming.”

12. The Post-Hope Politics of ‘House of Cards’

“Perhaps the most telling detail he shared with me is that he writes the 150-character plot summaries that accompany each episode of ‘House of Cards’ on Netflix. Not just the episodes — the summaries of the episodes.”

13. The Super Bowl of Sports Gambling

“Sports betting is so widespread that several economists I spoke with suggested that gambling was fueling the rise in N.F.L. viewership, rather than the other way around.”

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