Sunday 03.23.2014 New York Times Digest

MAIER2

1. A Mystery Woman’s Eye on the World

“There are still some people who don’t need to be on television as evidence they exist.”

2. Today’s Girls Love Pink Bows as Playthings, but These Shoot

“Heroines for young girls are rapidly changing, and the toy industry — long adept at capitalizing on gender stereotypes — is scrambling to catch up.”

3. Au Revoir, Entrepreneurs

“France has a lot of problems. There’s a feeling of gloom that seems to be growing deeper. The economy is not going well, and if you want to get ahead or run your own business, the environment is not good.”

4. Just Don’t Call Them Hearing Aids

“The market is proliferating with lots of devices not necessarily made for impaired hearing, but for someone who wants a boost in certain challenging conditions like lectures.”

5. Lessons From the Little Ice Age

“In the 17th century, the fatal synergy of weather, wars and rebellions killed millions. A natural catastrophe of analogous proportions today — whether or not humans are to blame — could kill billions.”

6. The Lost Art of the Unsent Angry Letter

“The unsent angry letter has a venerable tradition. Its purpose is twofold. It serves as a type of emotional catharsis, a way to let it all out without the repercussions of true engagement. And it acts as a strategic catharsis, an exercise in saying what you really think, which Mark Twain (himself a notable non-sender of correspondence) believed provided ‘unallowable frankness & freedom.'”

7. A Common Core for All of Us

“What we’re arguing about is what we want from our children’s education, and what, in fact, ‘getting an education’ actually means. For some parents, the primary desire is for our sons and daughters to wind up, more or less, like ourselves. Education, in this model, means handing down shared values of the community to the next generation. Sometimes it can also mean shielding children from aspects of the culture we do not approve of, or fear. For others, education means enlightening our children’s minds with the uncensored scientific and artistic truth of the world. If that means making our own sons and daughters strangers to us, then so be it.”

8. The Pilots in the Basement

“If it’s an airline in the real world, there’s probably a virtual version.”

9. The Geography of Fame

“Your chances of achieving notability were highly dependent on where you were born.”

10. The Evil of the Outdoor Cat

“Cats have caused or contributed to the extinction of 33 species.”

11. Don’t Worry, Get Botox

“New research suggests that it is possible to treat depression by paralyzing key facial muscles with Botox, which prevents patients from frowning and having unhappy-looking faces.”

12. What I’d Say to My Fat Son

“I don’t have a son, though I’m still hoping for one. If I ever do, and I see him getting fat, I’m going to encourage him to play football or wrestle or play an instrument or do whatever he can to rock his weight. If his siblings or friends pick on him, I’ll intervene, not conspire with them to humiliate and torture him. If my boy comes to me and says, ‘Dad, I think I want to lose some weight,’ I’ll take him to the gym and basketball court and boxing classes and I’ll teach him more about portion control and vegetables and tell him not to pay too much attention to his weight, just work out and eat right and hold his head high.”

13. Really? You’re Not in a Book Club?

“Reading is a solitary act, an experience of interiority. To read a book is to burst the confines of one’s consciousness and enter another world. What happens when you read a book in the company of others? You enter its world together but see it in your own way; and it’s through sharing those differences of perception that the book group acquires its emotional power.”

14. An Online Generation Redefines Mourning

“Text message was also the preferred medium of a 20-something who asked a funeral home in Los Angeles to text him a picture of his mother’s corpse to help him avoid having to go in and identify the body.”

15. The Decline and Fall of the ‘H’ Word

“The early gay-rights movement was called the homophile movement because its founders explicitly rejected the word homosexual; they did not want to be identified as exclusively sexual beings.”

16. Alter Ego Rattles Author’s Ego

“There is no truth when it comes to human beings.”

17. In a Squall of Mayhem, Lines Not Crossed

“You set a certain amount of rules, and you don’t break them, at least most of the time.”

18. Reflecting on a Writer’s Walk Through Europe

“During his lifetime, he was stabbed in Bulgaria, car-bombed in Greece, targeted in a blood vendetta, and hunted by German soldiers after kidnapping their commander on the island of Crete and handing him off to a waiting British submarine during World War II.”

19. Wizard of Westwood

“U.C.L.A. initially paid him so little he had to take a second job as a dispatcher for a dairy company.”

20. How Would a Book Like Harold Bloom’s ‘Western Canon’ Be Received Today?

“All that the Western canon can bring one is the proper use of one’s own solitude.”

21. The Razor’s Edge

“The swarthier a place, the better its barbers will be, and vice versa.”

22. The Thing About Noah and the Ark

“Men could live so long that Methusaleh was 369 years old when his grandson Noah was born but didn’t die until hundreds of years after Noah’s birth. Later in the Bible, mighty beasts, leviathans and behemoths ranged over land and sea. This didn’t sound like ancient Judea. It sounded like something much grander and less familiar. Here was a mythological world potentially as distinct as Middle Earth: a biblical, fantastical world.”

23. Who Made That Standing Desk?

“Standing desks are nothing new.”

24. The Scientific Quest to Prove Bisexuality Exists

“Do we really have to keep debating whether bisexuality exists?”

25. How Did Sleep Become So Nightmarish?

“Instead of being a strange, wild, mysterious Land of Nod whose purpose we don’t fully understand, sleep has been colonized by our ambition, becoming just another zone of the day to be farmed for productivity, generating new components necessary for performance like serotonin and healthy glial cells.”

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