Sunday 02.23.2014 New York Times Digest

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1. Your Ancestors, Your Fate

“The fortunes of high-status families inexorably fall, and those of low-status families rise, toward the average — what social scientists call ‘regression to the mean’ — but the process can take 10 to 15 generations (300 to 450 years), much longer than most social scientists have estimated in the past.”

2. In a First for Spain, a Woman Is Convicted of Inciting Terror Over Twitter

“The truth is that I’m a very normal girl, who has never landed herself in any kind of problem. But if I tell you everything that I’m fed up with, I would never stop.”

3. Olympians Use Imagery as Mental Training

“It’s amazing how much you can do in your mind.”

4. Happiness Is a Warm iPhone

“How can you love something that doesn’t challenge you?”

5. Audiobooks and the Return of Storytelling

“What happens when you hear a text rather than read it?”

6. How to Get a Job at Google

“The No. 1 thing we look for is general cognitive ability, and it’s not I.Q. It’s learning ability. It’s the ability to process on the fly. It’s the ability to pull together disparate bits of information.”

7. Should Obesity Be a ‘Disease’?

“Suggesting that one’s weight is a fixed state — like a long-term disease — made attempts at weight management seem futile, and thus undermined the importance that obese individuals placed on health-focused dieting and concern for weight.”

8. That Sweet Lamb in Wolf’s Clothing

“Remember the beautiful boy who perished in that famous, symbolic shipwreck? He never really went away. But now he is the shipwreck, and we are the passengers.”

9. In Drag, It Turns Out, There Are Second Acts

“We’re born naked, and the rest is drag.”

10. With Some Selfies, the Uglier the Better

“We spend so much time trying to hide our flaws because the culture has set it up that you have to be ashamed if you’re not perfect. I think girls are tired of it. They’re suddenly much more willing to embrace the ugly or ironic.”

11. How Obamacare Could Unlock Job Opportunities

“It may seem counterintuitive, but from an economics perspective, this is a good thing, because it encourages the labor force to allocate itself more efficiently. Older workers will finally be able to retire, leaving openings for younger workers. People will switch to jobs that better suit their talents. Parents will be able to spend more time with their families. Such changes don’t always make people wealthier, but they make people happier.”

12. The Art of Texting While Walking

“Her volunteers’ bodies and brains appeared to be ‘prioritizing texting.’”

13. Want a Flight Upgrade? Schmooze the Crew

“I introduce myself and say something like: ‘These are for you and the crew. Please distribute as you see fit.’”

14. In the Company of Truckers

“It could have been lack of sleep, but it was also a moment when I understood what it means to be overwhelmed by kindness. He refused and mentioned his daughter again, and it felt as if my insistence would disrupt the entire system by which he was operating. You do things sometimes for a stranger. You simply do them.”

15. A Journey to the Center of the World

“All together, what’s embedded at the center of Felicity amounts to a stupefying and unsummarizable catalog of human triumph, folly, idiosyncrasy and violence. Here is Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night.’ Here is Sandra Day O’Connor. The first recorded game of polo in 600 B.C. The expansion of Islam. H. G. Wells. Lao Tzu. The hamburger. A 19th-century political cartoon deriding Thomas Jefferson as a prairie dog, buckled over and vomiting money. The Ancient Greeks’ belief that diamonds were splinters of fallen stars. Advice from Julia Child: ‘If you are afraid of butter, use cream.’ And because Istel can’t predict who or what his audience will be in four millenniums, he has developed a gift for conveying fundamental truths as though they’re being considered for the first time: ‘Beautiful and romantic, our moon profoundly influences humans.’”

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