Sunday 7.20.2014 New York Times Digest

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1. Love People, Not Pleasure

“People who rate materialistic goals like wealth as top personal priorities are significantly likelier to be more anxious, more depressed and more frequent drug users, and even to have more physical ailments than those who set their sights on more intrinsic values.”

2. The Pickpocket’s Tale

“These are lean years for pickpockets. People carry more credit cards and less cash; men wear suits less, and tightfitting pants more.”

3. New Dimension in Scoreboard Watching

“As teams reap billions of dollars from television networks that carry their games in increasingly vivid detail, fans are finding more reasons to stay home, especially as the costs of tickets, parking and food escalate. So in a twist that would make Marshall McLuhan proud, teams are trying to recreate the living room experience in stadiums. In recent years, they have installed televisions in suites, boosted Wi-Fi and cellphone signals, and created lounges where fans can track their fantasy football teams.”

4. Jeter, Like Duncan, Makes the Routine Extraordinary

“His legacy also represents baseball’s most enduring and endearing qualities, an appreciation of nuance that sets it apart from its primary competition.”

5. Sometimes, Early Birds Are Too Early

“People appear wired to incur a significant physical cost to eliminate a mental burden.”

6. Income Inequality Is Not Rising Globally. It’s Falling.

“Income inequality for the world as a whole has been falling for most of the last 20 years.”

7. The Job That Keeps Playing in My Head

“Over the next months, more friends moved away from Iowa City as they found jobs and made plans to start families, or found agents and received grants. My book, though, was a mess. I found myself increasingly alone. With Ned. With the house. The stink of pigs grew rich and complicated as the weather warmed, as the cold prairie came back to life.”

8. The Data-Driven Home Search

“The growing accessibility of highly detailed demographic data plays into the natural tendency of home buyers to look for ‘people like us,’ which is as old as the subdivided hills.”

9. The Future of Robot Caregivers

“Are there ethical issues we will need to address? Of course.”

10. Our Love Affair With the Mug Shot

“From the iconic images of Butch Cassidy and his crew to the gangster mug shots in 1920s and ’30s pulp magazines, from the introduction of the F.B.I.’s most-wanted posters in 1950 to today’s click-bait online mug shot slide shows, we have always sought the chance to gaze at accused criminals.”

11. The End of ‘Genius’

“The lone genius is a myth that has outlived its usefulness. Fortunately, a more truthful model is emerging: the creative network, as with the crowd-sourced Wikipedia or the writer’s room at ‘The Daily Show’ or — the real heart of creativity — the intimate exchange of the creative pair, such as John Lennon and Paul McCartney and myriad other examples with which we’ve yet to fully reckon.”

12. Real Adventurers Read Maps

“There’s admittedly something satisfying about watching the blue-dot version of yourself inch closer to its destination. And sure, for the rush-hour commuter it’s very 21st century for your phone to alert you to an accident snarling traffic up ahead. But I would argue that a road trip, especially one taken with another person, is a lesser experience with GPS or navigation apps.”

13. How Tests Make Us Smarter

“Used properly, testing as part of an educational routine provides an important tool not just to measure learning, but to promote it.”

14. Staring at the Flame

“Philip took vivid stock of everything, all the time. It was painful and exhausting work, and probably in the end his undoing. The world was too bright for him to handle. He had to screw up his eyes or be dazzled to death. Like Chatterton, he went seven times round the moon to your one, and every time he set off, you were never sure he’d come back, which is what I believe somebody said about the German poet Hölderlin: Whenever he left the room, you were afraid you’d seen the last of him. And if that sounds like wisdom after the event, it isn’t. Philip was burning himself out before your eyes.”

15. Eileen Ford’s Legacy

“Eileen was the person who made modeling really respectable. It was something that nice girls could do. Before that, it was a step up from being a hatcheck girl at the Copacabana.”

16. Technology’s Rainbow Connection

“Looking at the elated faces in the crowd, many stamped with that Facebook ‘Like,’ it almost seemed as if the tech industry and the gay communities in San Francisco had merged in a kind of ecstatically branded, hashtag-enabled celebration of shared ascendancy. And yet, for all these public strides, insiders say the culture has yet to fully transcend its frat-boy programmer reputation.”

17. Real Men Don’t Drink Pink

“The idea of assessing sexuality or character through what is in someone’s refrigerator is absurd, although anyone who sees an extra-large Domino’s Pizza box in a man’s refrigerator and sticks around is getting no sympathy from me.”

18. Bill Hader: By the Book

“I don’t believe in the term ‘guilty pleasure,’ because it implies I should feel ashamed for liking something. A real guilty pleasure would be, I don’t know, taking gratification in some stranger’s ghastly death or something — which I guess I do enjoy, because I read a ton of true crime. So, O.K., O.K., I have a guilty pleasure, and it’s true crime.”

19. The Woman

“Luce ‘could enter a room where there were other women, more beautiful, better dressed with better figures, and they faded into the background, foils for her radiance.’”

20. Sing to Me, O Muse (But Keep It Brief)

“Technology has routed the humanities. Everyone wants the latest app, the best device, the slickest new gadget. Put on the defensive, advocates for the humanities have failed to make an effective case for their fields. There have been efforts to promote the digital humanities, it being understood that the adjective ‘digital’ is what rescues ‘humanities’ in the phrase. Has the faculty thrown in the towel too soon? Have literature departments and libraries welcomed the end of the book with unseemly haste? Have the conservators of culture embraced the acceleration of change that may endanger the study of the literary humanities as if — like the clock face, cursive script and the rotary phone — it, too, can be effectively consigned to the ash heap of the analog era?”

21. Content and Its Discontents

“Taylor’s thesis is simply stated. The pre-Internet cultural industry, populated mainly by exploitative conglomerates, was far from perfect, but at least the ancien régime felt some need to cultivate cultural institutions, and to pay for talent at all levels. Along came the web, which swept away hierarchies — as well as paychecks, leaving behind creators of all kinds only the chance to be fleetingly ‘Internet famous.’”

22. What Are the Last Literary Taboos?

“There will always be taboos as long as the powerful are allowed to define what writers are forbidden to write.”

23. Let’s Cool It in the Bedroom

“You can almost effortlessly tweak your metabolic health by turning down the bedroom thermostat a few degrees.”

24. The Weird, Scary and Ingenious Brain of Maria Bamford

“Bamford talks about mental illness the same way Sarah Silverman talks about being Jewish or Louis C.K. talks about being divorced, with the flippant knowingness of an insider.”

25. The Pageant King of Alabama

“Alverson is one of the most successful beauty-pageant coaches in America today.”

26. Is Your Relationship With Fido on the Rocks?

“Today, dogs are one of the primary relationships — if not the primary relationship — in many people’s lives. We think of our dogs as family members, as kids, so it’s no surprise we would have conflicts with them. Our dogs can unintentionally push our buttons.”

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