Sunday 5.11.2014 New York Times Digest

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1. Lost Booksellers of New York

“Here is a brief honor roll of bookshops now vanished: the Seven Gables Bookshop; House of Books Ltd.; Scribner’s; the Gotham Book Mart; the Carnegie Book Shop; Dauber & Pine; the Eberstadt Brothers; University Place Book Shop; Ursus Books; House of El Dieff; and Parnassus Books.”

2. Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, and Lately, Coding

“To many parents — particularly ones here in the heart of the technology corridor — coding looks less like an extracurricular activity and more like a basic life skill, one that might someday lead to a great job or even instant riches.”

3. China Says Goodbye in the Key of G: Kenny G

“I don’t ask questions because I like to leave some of the mystery.”

4. Clippers for Sale, and the Owner Who Was Desperate

“It is a strange, serpentine tale, snaking through Hollywood, Seattle, Boston and Buffalo, the characters as colorful as Red Auerbach, Colonel Sanders, World B. Free and the father of the ‘Mod Squad’ actress Peggy Lipton and grandfather of Rashida Jones.”

5. The National Pastime, Amid a National Crisis

“Abner Doubleday (1819-1893) — revered as the Union’s second in command at Fort Sumter, S.C., who, in April 1861, had fired the first shot defending the beleaguered federal garrison — was posthumously claimed to be the ‘inventor’ of baseball. This was although Doubleday had made no such assertion for himself, left no evidence of it in his papers, and, at the time he was supposed to have fashioned the game in Cooperstown, N.Y., (now home of the Baseball Hall of Fame), was studying at West Point. To this day, some baseball fans insist (inaccurately) that home plate was designed to resemble the five-sided Fort Sumter, recognizing Doubleday’s ‘contribution’ to the game.”

6. A Possible Path to Closing the Pay Gap

“If the pay gap leads us to consider men to be more productive than women, the schooling gap should symmetrically lead us to consider the opposite.”

7. Your Building on an Index Card

“Every new condo or co-op built in New York — from a modest two-family semidetached house upstate to a shiny Manhattan tower with $90-million penthouses — begins its gestation in the same unlikely place: a shabby office near Wall Street where a handful of beleaguered state employees toil under a deluge of paper, date stamp machines and other vestiges of outdated technology.”

8. The Toxic Brew in Our Yards

“Homeowners use up to 10 times more chemicals per acre than farmers do. Some of these chemicals rub off on children or pets, but most are washed with rainwater into our streams, lakes and rivers or are absorbed into our groundwater. These are the sources of our drinking water, and tests show these chemicals are indeed contaminating our water supply.”

9. Microstrikes for the Modern Workplace

“An actual strike will get you fired, but these micro-strikes can help lower your productivity to match your stagnant wage.”

10. Young Minds in Critical Condition

“Instead of trying to find mistakes in the texts, I suggest we take the point of view that our authors created these apparent ‘contradictions’ in order to get readers like us to ponder more interesting questions. How do we think about inequality and learning, for example, or how can we stand on our own feet while being open to inspiration from the world around us? Yes, there’s a certain satisfaction in being critical of our authors, but isn’t it more interesting to put ourselves in a frame of mind to find inspiration in them?”

11. Professors Are Prejudiced, Too

“Professors were more responsive to white male students than to female, black, Hispanic, Indian or Chinese students in almost every discipline and across all types of universities. We found the most severe bias in disciplines paying higher faculty salaries and at private universities.”

12. Rape and the College Brand

“The modern university’s primary loyalty is not really to liberalism or political correctness or any kind of ideological design: It’s to the school’s brand, status and bottom line.”

13. The Paradox of Art as Work

“The elevation of the amateur over the professional trivializes artistic accomplishment and helps to undermine the already precarious living standards that artists have been able to enjoy.”

14. For the Love of Being ‘Liked’

“We are deep enough into the social-media era to begin to recognize certain patterns among its users. Foremost among them is a mass anxiety of approval seeking and popularity tracking that seems far more suited to a high school prom than a high-functioning society.”

15. Raising a Style Icon

“While top billing eluded the Valley of the Dolls actress in life, the honey-blond siren has enjoyed a posthumous renaissance, embraced as a ’60s style avatar by a new generation of style blogs, Pinterest boards and fashion spreads.”

16. Girl Power: Scent of a Woman

“A study published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior found that ladies who smelled T-shirts worn by ovulating women — their ‘rivals’ — had increased testosterone levels. But Rachel Herz, author of The Scent of Desire, says sniffing other women is complicated these days. ‘You most likely are getting the scent of various grooming and beauty products.’”

17. Philippe Petit Strikes a Delicate Balance

“I hate all electronic things that are supposed to help the human being. You don’t smell, you don’t hear, you don’t touch anymore. All our senses are being controlled. At the same time, I am a total imbecile because to have a little iPhone that can take pictures, that can find the nearest hospital, that can tell you the weather in Jakarta — it’s probably fabulous. I’m supposed to be a man of balance, but my state of mind in those things is very unbalanced. I love or I hate.”

18. You Should Seriously Read ‘Stoner’ Right Now

Posterity shouldn’t be about publishing trends or marketing budgets. Herman Melville figured Moby-Dick would be his masterpiece and was bewildered when it bombed. The Great Gatsby was dismissed for years as a minor work. The list goes on. Orwell famously argued that the only real critic of literature is time.”

19. Walk, Don’t Run

“Who has time to walk, in this overscheduled age? I always seem to be running, not walking, whenever I happen to be at large on two feet, suffused with a cold-sweat adrenaline panic that I’ll be late to whatever the next vital thing is, miss the train, the flight, the crucial email, the fateful encounter or just closing time at the grocery store. It’s one thing to distractedly click on an Instagram photo or a Facebook note a friend has posted of a breathtaking scene or enviable meal he’s scored on a far-flung holiday; that doesn’t jolt us from our harried workday routines. We absorb them half-consciously before checking Twitter, then return dutifully to our inboxes. The literature of walking shakes us out of this world set on whir, nudging us into a parallel universe where days are measured not by the messages on the screen, but by the rising and setting of the sun.”

20. Float, Memory

“What are the best male swimming trunks on the planet and what do they do for you in and out of the drink?”

21. The Luxury of Humility

“The three-bedroom penthouse Vervoordt has built atop the existing hotel is designed in the spirit of wabi-sabi, a Japanese philosophy that embraces humility at its core; Vervoordt explains it as a way of saying ‘thank you’ to nature (wabi means ‘sober refinement’ and sabi means ‘patina’). The elements of a wabi-sabi space often appear simple or rustic and show signs of age; a reminder of the transience and imperfection of all things. Each piece, from a wooden door frame to a ceramic vase, must be carefully selected and artfully arranged in the wabi spirit.”

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