Sunday 03.16.2014 New York Times Digest


1. Learning From Legos

“Thanks to new rapid-prototyping technologies like computer numerical control milling and 3-D printing, we’ve seen a convergence between hacker and hipster, between high-tech coding and the low-tech artisanal craft behind everything from Etsy to Burning Man.”

2. Billionaires With Big Ideas Are Privatizing American Science

“American science, long a source of national power and pride, is increasingly becoming a private enterprise.”

3. Jumping Off the Screen

“We’re production managers, but we’re also dream makers. There’s no Fourth Wall. That’s the secret to full immersion. You are there.”

4. Paralympics, at Peace as Wars Wind Down

“This year’s Paralympics, which had the highest attendance of any Games to date, were inextricably tied to combat.”

5. Income Gap, Meet the Longevity Gap

“Residents of Fairfax County are among the longest-lived in the country: Men have an average life expectancy of 82 years and women, 85, about the same as in Sweden. In McDowell, the averages are 64 and 73, about the same as in Iraq.”

6. Where Are the People of Color in Children’s Books?

“Books transmit values. They explore our common humanity. What is the message when some children are not represented in those books?”

7. The Rise of Anti-Capitalism

“A formidable new technology infrastructure — the Internet of Things — is emerging with the potential to push much of economic life to near zero marginal cost over the course of the next two decades.”

8. The Incessant Selling of the Self

“There’s already been a cry about grade inflation. Letters of recommendation are an equal problem. If all the letters stopped, the burden might be shifted. What are the standards of those offering opportunities? Couldn’t they conduct interviews and form opinions based on the person and his or her work, rather than amassing letters by seemingly objective authorities that by now everyone takes less than seriously?”

9. Let Me Count the Days

“Nothing says mortality like the realization that you will live only long enough to use up 3.2 percent of your office supplies.”

10. The Age of Individualism

“Like modernity writ large, it promises emancipation and offers new forms of community that transcend the particular and local. But it requires a price, in terms of privacy surrendered, that past tyrannies could have only dreamed of exacting from their subjects.”

11. A Fistful of Movie Scores

“Composing music is the one job I chose to do, and it’s what I love the most. So I have fun, yes. But I also suffer.”

12. My Life as a Writer

“It is my comic fate to be the writer these traducers have decided I am not. They practice a rather commonplace form of social control: You are not what you think you are. You are what we think you are. You are what we choose for you to be. Well, welcome to the subjective human race.”

13. Is It Harder to Write About Happiness Than Its Opposite?

“Happiness, modern European literature tells us with remarkable consistency, is either an impossible dream or a contemptible illusion. Byron communicates this truth with defiant panache, Dostoyevsky with urgent pathos, Camus with noble stoicism, Beckett with curt, cryptic irony; but the differences in time and place and language don’t alter the essential message.”

14. A New Stimulus Package

“A team of Belgian researchers found that female grad students instructed to fondle boxer shorts were later more willing to take financial risk, and more willing to pay more for ‘reward products’ (wine and chocolate), than those who handled a plain T-shirt.”

15. What Comes After Rich Baby Boomers? Kids With a Big Inheritance

“Get ready for a flood of princelings — and some potentially worrisome consequences for social mobility in the United States, as the immense earnings of an already stratified economy are entrusted to a new generation.”

16. The Psychomagical Realism of Alejandro Jodorowsky

“When I’m not creating something, I get bored, I despair.”

17. Silicon Valley’s Youth Problem

“In pursuing the latest and the coolest, young engineers ignore opportunities in less-sexy areas of tech like semiconductors, data storage and networking, the products that form the foundation on which all of Web 2.0 rests. Without a good router to provide reliable Wi-Fi, your Dropbox file-sharing application is not going to sync; without Nvidia’s graphics processing unit, your BuzzFeed GIF is not going to make anyone laugh. The talent — and there’s a ton of it — flowing into Silicon Valley cares little about improving these infrastructural elements. What they care about is coming up with more web apps.”

18. The Cold, Hard Lessons of Mobile Home U.

“It’s just an absolutely great time to be in the mobile-home business, with all the people who have been displaced from their homes because of foreclosures or they’ve lost a job or what have you.”

19. Who’s More Famous Than Jesus?

“For now, you are legitimately famous, the M.I.T. team has decided, if a Wikipedia page under your name exists in more than 25 languages.”

20. The Death of the Bargain Bin

“In our new entertainment landscape, in which the dominant cultural forces are Netflix (for movies), its siblings like Hulu and HBO Go (for TV), Spotify (for music) and Amazon (for books and e-books), the concept of the bargain bin — a place where you could buy the cultural equivalent of ephemera, books and movies and music that had been judged too something to be worth full price — has been rendered obsolete.”


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