Sunday 03.02.2014 New York Times Digest

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1. The Last, Disposable Action Hero

“Almost any actor, even some of Hollywood’s most scrawny, can be physically transformed for the part if he’s willing to put in the hard work. The studios know this, which is why any inexpensive unknown can be chosen.”

2. Popular Tech Gathering Faces Growing Pains

“The whole notion of ‘geek’ has changed in the culture in the last decade. It’s gone from this pejorative put-down to ‘geeks are kind of cool.’”

3. Brooklyn Communal Cool: The Brand

“A collective that some might consider a commune, eight roommates, most of them musicians and artists, share meals and expenses, use a Google doc to keep track of their chores, and pitch in to shop for groceries and stock the bathrooms. In addition to the core members, there is a vast network of friends and former residents — a total of 35 people have lived at the Clubhouse since it was established five years ago — who crash on the couches, often for indefinite periods. There’s a waiting list for residency, and the application, as it were, includes having to ‘vibe out’ with current members, including the house’s founder and de facto president, Andrew Thomas Reid, 29.”

4. A Farmer’s Breakfast, and Then a Wander

“My default mode is to wander.”

5. The Monuments of Tech

“Increasingly, Silicon Valley companies are paying builders to fuse their values of speed, change and productivity with their perceived corporate smarts and quirkiness. It is a big shift. Silicon Valley long prided itself on building world-changing technologies from the humble garage, or the nondescript office park. The new spaces are more distinctive, as companies seek to build a consumer profile and maybe even lasting loyalty.”

6. The Rolling Robot Will Connect You Now

“It’s also possible that the machines could too easily replace the important emotional contact of actual visits.”

7. Where Sounds Have No Barrier

“In some ways, we are still like animals in the forest, he said, listening for sudden or unexpected sounds — or even the absence of sound.”

8. The Education of a Craftsman

“I love that the work is still blue-collar but requires a lot of knowledge. There will always be a need for skilled craftsmen.”

9. Download: Antonin Baudry

“Life without music would be hardly bearable for me. These days, I’m back to my very favorite music — the suites for unaccompanied cello by Bach and the first albums of Metallica. They are surprisingly closer to each other than you would think. The instruments are different and the sound is different but Metallica basically is using some of the same classical melodies as Bach. I switch from Bach to Metallica and vice versa. It depends on the mood of the day.”

10. The Sound of Philadelphia Fades Out

“The beauty of the Philly accent, and I should point out it’s mostly to whites that these sweeping statements apply, is its mashing-up of the Northern and Southern.”

11. The End of the ‘Developing World’

“It’s time that we start describing the world as ‘fat’ or ‘lean.’”

12. College, the Great Unleveler

“More Americans than ever enroll in college, but the graduates who emerge a few years later indicate that instead of reducing inequality, our system of higher education reinforces it.”

13. What You Learn in Your 40s

“Just say ‘no.’ Never suggest lunch with people you don’t want to have lunch with. They will be much less disappointed than you think.”

14. Support Your Local Slaughterhouse

“If we want to eat eggs, dairy and meat, we must come to terms with the need for good slaughter facilities available to all farmers.”

15. How to Love the Cold

“The season starts out quaint — holidays and hot cocoa — but ends as a yearly reminder that the planet doesn’t care if we die.”

16. What Faces Can’t Tell Us

“Human facial expressions, viewed on their own, are not universally understood.”

17. The Downside of Inciting Envy

“Envy is positively correlated with depression and neuroticism, and the hostility it breeds may actually make us sick. Recent work suggests that envy can help explain our complicated relationship with social media: it often leads to destructive ‘social comparison,’ which decreases happiness. To understand this, just picture yourself scrolling through your ex’s wedding photos.”

18. The Gender Gap in Screen Time

“This year’s lead actors average 85 minutes on screen, but lead actresses average only 57 minutes.”

19. A Marriage at Sea? Get Me Rewrite

“Appealing though it may be, the myth of a ship’s captain presiding over the nuptials of dewy-eyed couples has for most of the last century been pretty much just that.”

20. In Kentucky, a Family at the Center of the Earth

“It is the longest known cave system in the world by far. it is the longest known cave system in the world by far. But it is also more than that. ‘If you want to know the story of America, it’s preserved in Mammoth Cave,’ is how one guide recently explained it.”

21. Chelsea Handler: By the Book

“Reading a book on mindfulness is a pretty good indicator that you’ve lost yours.”

22. How the Sausage Is Made

“Food production is not just about food — it’s about almost everything else, too, from politics to culture to economics.”

23. Willkommen

“Operation Paperclip was a bad idea.”

24. The Mammoth Cometh

“There are 1,532 passenger-pigeon specimens left on Earth. On Sept. 1, 1914, Martha, the last captive passenger pigeon, died at the Cincinnati Zoo. She outlasted George, the penultimate survivor of her species and her only companion, by four years. As news spread of her species’ imminent extinction, Martha became a minor tourist attraction. In her final years, whether depressed or just old, she barely moved. Underwhelmed zoo visitors threw fistfuls of sand at her to elicit a reaction. When she finally died, her body was taken to the Cincinnati Ice Company, frozen in a 300-pound ice cube and shipped by train to the Smithsonian Institution, where she was stuffed and mounted and visited, 99 years later, by Ben Novak.”

25. The Brilliant, Unnerving Meta-Marketing of ‘The Lego Movie’

“Where does the second-largest toy company in the world get off offering up a Marxist parable about the mind-control perpetrated by corporate profit mongers, like the second-largest toy company in the world?”

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