Sunday 02.09.2014 New York Times Digest


1. Romance at Arm’s Length

“A Soul Mate in a Box (Smiab, for short) is a person we rarely if ever meet and in some cases never speak to, but to whom we feel closer than anyone else. Maybe the relationship exists through instant messages, or over email, or via Skype, FaceTime and texting. Perhaps Snapchat allows the couple to exchange racy pictures, adding a glimpse of sexuality, if not sex.”

2. Snowden Used Low-Cost Tool to Best N.S.A.

“A 29-year-old computer engineer, working from a World War II-era tunnel in Oahu and then from downtown Honolulu, had access to unencrypted files that dealt with information as varied as the bulk collection of domestic phone numbers and the intercepted communications of Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and dozens of other leaders.”

3. Seeking U.S. Art All Over Map. Just Check GPS.

“The goal of their unusual art hunt — an old-fashioned, Kerouacian canvass of the country — is to find 100 underrecognized artists, culled from a list of more than 10,000, to feature in September in an ambitious show that will represent Ms. Walton’s first attempt to plant her institution’s flag firmly in the world of contemporary art.”

4. Program Benefiting Some Immigrants Extends Visa Wait for Others

“First it was surprise. Then dismay. Then it just becomes very discouraging. You feel helpless. You feel as if you did things the right way and you are penalized for it.”

5. An Inmate and a Scholar

“Nothing would surprise me. All I can say is he was brilliant and probably capable of doing anything.”

6. Republicans Are Wooing the Wired

“After the 2012 elections, when Republicans and conservatives spent more than $1 billion trying and failing to unseat President Obama and win back the Senate, they concluded that they had fallen dangerously behind Democrats in the realm of technology. Now, with midterm elections just nine months away, the right is investing tens of millions of dollars to match the interactive platforms, grass-roots databases and sophisticated data analytics that allowed Democrats to identify voters, reach them with precision and persuade them to vote.”

7. Search for a Market Niche, and You Might Find a Crowd

There are still two Silicon Valleys. Young entrepreneurs in San Francisco, working at a tech firm, surrounded by the tech 1 percent, solving problems for the 1 percent. And there are companies that manage to break through that and become relevant. The Googles, Twitters and Facebooks of the world.”

8. The Path to Reading a Newborn’s DNA Map

“The research projects are unusual in that they tightly link technical and clinical problems with ethical ones.”

9. The End of Snow?

“The planet has warmed 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit since the 1800s, and as a result, snow is melting.”

10. Inside a Mental Hospital Called Jail

“Nationwide in America, more than three times as many mentally ill people are housed in prisons and jails as in hospitals.”

11. After War, a Failure of the Imagination

“We pay political consequences when civilians are excused or excluded from discussion of war. After all, veterans are no more or less trustworthy than any other group of fallible human beings. Southern veterans of the Civil War claimed the Confederacy was a noble lost cause. Nazi leaders who had served in World War I claimed that the German troops had all but won the war, only to be stabbed in the back by civilians in thrall to Jewish interests. The notion that the veteran is an unassailable authority on the experience of war shuts down conversation. But in a democracy, no one, not even a veteran, should have the last word.”

12. Why Nutrition Is So Confusing

“If we understand these disorders so well, why have we failed so miserably to prevent them?”

13. How Single Motherhood Hurts Kids

“Even if you believe that enlarging the infrastructure of support for single-parent families shows compassion for today’s children, it’s not at all obvious that it shows much concern for tomorrow’s.”

14. Lost in Clinical Translation

“The success of physician-patient interaction has a real effect on patients’ health.”

15. My Husband’s Things

“I cannot yet part with anything.”

16. The Case for a Higher Minimum Wage

“An hourly minimum of $10.10, for example, as Democrats have proposed, would reduce the number of people living in poverty by 4.6 million.”

17. Would You Lie for Me?

“If we do not recognize the extent to which our suggestions and actions are likely to affect others’ behavior, we may be careless about the things we say and do. On the other hand, we may fail to speak up for what we think is right.”

18. Leaving Work Behind

“Well-educated professionals — inspired by rising pay and status-obsessed competition — often work longer hours than they did a few decades ago, while poorer Americans, especially poorer men, are increasingly disconnected from the labor force entirely.”

19. A Sentimental Education

“There are times when words don’t matter, and books even less, and these are maybe the best times, such as when you turn in the night and find that someone you — what is the word? — love? desire? feel warm with? turns with you by a mixture of pure magic and sweet will, and then you both fall into a lovely literatureless sleep.”

20. The 7-Day Digital Diet

“Returning to the harder-earned pleasures of Emersonian self-reliance proved challenging. When you commit to disconnecting, you wean yourself off the Pavlovian dopamine rush of external affirmation and information, but it must be a deliberate choice. Simply having it withheld from you (such as being on a plane without Wi-Fi) does not work, as evidenced by the customary reaction of passengers quick-drawing their phones upon landing like Wild West gunslingers.”

21. Final Decisions

“College is just a tool to help you achieve your life goals.”

22. Learning to Think Outside the Box

“Once considered the product of genius or divine inspiration, creativity — the ability to spot problems and devise smart solutions — is being recast as a prized and teachable skill. Pin it on pushback against standardized tests and standardized thinking, or on the need for ingenuity in a fluid landscape.”

23. Stepping Up to Stop Sexual Assault

“If a drunk young man at a party is pawing a drunk young woman, then someone nearby (the bystander) needs to step in (intervene) and get one of them out of there.”

24. Making Consent Cool

“Getting consent should be just one part of a frank conversation about what is and isn’t O.K. during sex … and can enhance the sexual experience rather than stifle it.”

25. Talking to Children About Consent

“Be the guy who watches out for others at a party.”

26. Love, Actually

“For this résumé-driven generation, schools would do well to add a grade-based seminar about love. The course could cross many academic disciplines: the biology of intimacy; the multicultural history of courtship; the psychology and sociology of vulnerability.”

27. Sleeping Your Way to the Top

“Do Americans believe a good night’s sleep is ‘inimical to success’? So postulates Florence King in The Spectator magazine. It was Thomas Edison, king of the catnap, she contends, who ‘moved us into this realm of mysticism’ by fostering the rumor that he didn’t sleep at all. Stories raged ‘about his practice of catching 40 winks in his lab while stretched out on a table or a shelf, fully clothed and indifferent to “sore labour’s bath.”‘”

28. Deep Inside Baz Luhrmann’s Creative Chaos

“Last fall, I proposed to Luhrmann that he give me a sense of what his life is like in the in-between time — the months of rebooting and reassessing, navel-gazing and nail-biting, that follow the birth of one film and precede the conception of another.”

29. Does a More Equal Marriage Mean Less Sex?

“The less gender differentiation, the less sexual desire.”

30. All of the Pleasure. None of the Guilt.

“Culture is one of the last arenas of experience that can offer us unmitigated pleasure — the joy of an enveloping read; the rapture of a thrilling film. Why taint that enjoyment with apprehension about the worthiness of the enjoyment itself?”


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