Sunday 8.10.2014 New York Times Digest


1. A Cathedral Under Siege

“That word, sacrilege, may sound a bit overblown — but only to the ear of someone who has never been afforded the chance to grasp, firsthand, what makes this place so utterly unique, a landscape without antecedent or analog. Although it is not the first, nor the largest, nor the most popular of America’s national parks, the Grand Canyon is nevertheless regarded as the touchstone and the centerpiece of the entire system. And rightly so. Because nowhere else has nature provided a more graphic display of its titanic indifference to the works and aspirations of man.”

2. 50 Years an Exile

“The very conditions under which we live incite us to insubordination.”

3. Living Like the Kardashians, via Smartphone

“In some ways, she may represent a new generation of celebrity entrepreneurs, those who don’t merely write checks or appear on billboards next to products, but who treat their own lifestyles as the products that fans will want to buy. The Kardashian game is marketed as an invitation to experience her world, even if only as a cartoon fantasy.”

4. Where Have All the Truckers Gone?

“Trucking companies are turning down business for want of workers.”

5. Download: Nina Hoss

“I’m not such a fan of the concept of social media, though I don’t have anything against it. I still love to call the people I want to be friends with.”

6. Britain’s Drinking Problem

“British history floats on a sea of booze.”

7. Hit the Reset Button in Your Brain

“The summer vacation is more than a quaint tradition. Along with family time, mealtime and weekends, it is an important way that we can make the most of our beautiful brains.”

8. Don’t Let Your Children Grow Up to Be Farmers

“The dirty secret of the food movement is that the much-celebrated small-scale farmer isn’t making a living.”

9. Swimming Against the Rising Tide

“How do we bridge the distance between our own seemingly insignificant lives and actions and the scale of climate change, so global and so slow?”

10. This Is Reform?

“If you separate off the 65 schools in the Big 5 conferences — plus a few others like Boise State in football and the University of Connecticut in basketball — and allow their athletic departments to become ever richer and more powerful, they will be more easily seen for what they are: a form of professionalized and commercialized entertainment that has very little to do with higher education.”

11. Screen Voices, Banished but Not Silenced

“Our past is preserved in our films, predicated on shared fantasies and projected larger than life.”

12. CrossFit Flirting: Talk Burpee to Me

“Perhaps more than disciples of any other type of exercise, people who participate in CrossFit can’t help being drawn to people who do the same.”

13. Facebook’s Change of Face

“Some people are taking to Twitter to bemoan a surfeit of foreign policy chatter on Facebook.”

14. Restoring Acadia’s Trails

“America experienced a naturalist revival in the late 1800s, a belated enlightenment inspired by the likes of Charles Darwin and Henry David Thoreau. Mountain tourism boomed in the Catskill and White Mountains, and walking became a required activity on weekend getaways. A decade after Thomas Cole and the Hudson River School painters returned from Mount Desert with plein-air paintings of the island, the first tourists arrived. And they wanted to walk.”

15. Garrison Keillor: By the Book

“Ecclesiastes tells you all you need to know about Minnesota. ‘Whoever increases knowledge increases sorrow.’ You can say that again. ‘The race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong nor bread to the wise nor riches to men of understanding, but time and chance happeneth to them all.’ That’s got Minnesota down to a T. You run fast and you trip on a gopher hole, you are heavily armed and well trained and you shoot yourself in the foot, you’re so smart you go broke. ‘The thing that has been is the thing that shall be; and the thing that is done is that which shall be done: There is nothing new under the sun.’ This is the sum and substance of the prevailing philosophy in my state. The optimists among us are either running for public office or on strong medications; the rest of us are skeptical.”

16. The Interpretation of Freud

“From birth to death we are, every last one of us, divided against ourselves. We both want to grow up and don’t want to grow up; hunger for sexual pleasure, dread sexual pleasure; hate our own aggressions — our anger, our cruelty, our humiliations — yet these are derived from the grievances we are least willing to part with. The hope of achieving an integrated self is a vain one as we are equally divided about our own suffering; we do in fact love it and want — nay, intend — never to relinquish it.”

17. On the Record

“Even the keenest strategic minds are inevitably imprisoned in inherited frameworks of perception and understanding.”

18. You Mean It’s Not Dead?

“Schmidt, one deduces, sees the kind of literary criticism sponsored by the ­Anglo-American academy as blighted by restrictive field specialism and the critical monograph — by writing expertly about one thing. A withering exiguity of scope, he would argue. Fiction, for Schmidt, is a gestalt, a field whose vast totality gives meaning to its single elements. You must think big, he implies, if you want to think to any purpose.”

19. Winged Victories

“Despite the putrid menu vultures favor, their excrement is sterile. In fact, letting the waste run down their legs can clean off germs from the gore; it’s their version of freshening up with a moist towelette after a barbecue. Tiny bee hummingbirds are so small you could mail 16 of them for the price of a single stamp. Robins can navigate with the right eye alone, but not the left. Albatrosses, who spend 95 percent of their lives over open ocean, are thought to be able to shut down half their brains while continuing to fly at 40 m.p.h. For blackcap warblers, the direction of migration is clearly innate, so crossbreeding a group of blackcaps who flew south for fall migration with a group that oriented westward resulted in offspring who flew in a southwesterly direction. And if bird breakups are seen in human terms, flamingos’ behavior — their divorce rate is 99 percent — fits their flashy profile. Albatrosses, by contrast, really do hang in there for the long haul, staying together till death.”

20. How to Know When to Unfriend Someone

“We all spend so much time focusing on the outflow of our digital lives, but we should also focus on the inflow. I keep a tally in the Notes app on my iPhone: If I find that seven, eight or nine times out of 10 I see a status from someone that makes me feel jealous or insecure or uncomfortable or sad or frustrated or angry, I’ll unfriend them.”

21. The Brazilian Bus Magnate Who’s Buying Up All the World’s Vinyl Records

RECORD COLLECTIONS. We BUY any record collection. Any style of music. We pay HIGHER prices than anyone else.

22. Has the ‘Libertarian Moment’ Finally Arrived?

“Today, for perhaps the first time, the libertarian movement appears to have genuine political momentum on its side.”

23. Who Knows How This Column Will End?

“Endings are hard.”


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