Sunday 9.7.2014 New York Times Digest


1. Why Flunking Exams Is Actually a Good Thing

“Testing might be the key to studying, rather than the other way around. As it turns out, a test is not only a measurement tool. It’s a way of enriching and altering memory.”

2. OkCupid’s Unblushing Analyst of Attraction

“The data was sitting right there on our servers. It was an irresistible social opportunity.”

3. The Motherhood Penalty vs. the Fatherhood Bonus

“One of the worst career moves a woman can make is to have children. Mothers are less likely to be hired for jobs, to be perceived as competent at work or to be paid as much as their male colleagues with the same qualifications. For men, meanwhile, having a child is good for their careers. They are more likely to be hired than childless men, and tend to be paid more after they have children.”

4. Words of a Slain Journalist

“Everyone has two lives. The second one begins when you realize you have only one.”

5. Demanding More From College

“We live in a country of sharpening divisions, pronounced tribalism, corrosive polarization. And I wish we would nudge kids — no, I wish we would push them — to use college as an exception and a retort to that, as a pre-emptive strike against it, as a staging ground for behaving and living in a different, broader, healthier way.”

6. Why Don’t More Men Go Into Teaching?

“Teaching is an overwhelmingly female profession, and in fact has become more so over time. More than three-quarters of all teachers in kindergarten through high school are women.”

7. Can’t Place That Smell? You Must Be American

“In recent years anthropologists have begun to point out that sensory perception is culturally specific.”

8. Giving Up My Small-Town Fantasy

“It was so easy to want to live in Hudson, so hard to actually live in Hudson.”

9. Why Don’t Americans Take Vacation?

“According to a new report, four in 10 American workers allow some of their paid vacation days to go unused. Why aren’t we taking time off? Is it because we’re a culture of workaholics or are companies not doing enough to accommodate paid vacation?”

10. When Whites Just Don’t Get It, Part 2

“Mass incarceration means that the United States imprisons a higher proportion of its black population than apartheid South Africa did.”

11. Liking Work Really Matters

“Interest matters more than we ever knew. It is crucial to keeping us motivated and effective without emptying our mental gas tank, and it can turn the mundane into something exciting.”

12. Rape and Rotherham

“The crucial issue in both scandals isn’t some problem that’s exclusive to traditionalism or progressivism. Rather, it’s the protean nature of power and exploitation, and the way that very different forms of willful blindness can combine to frustrate justice.”

13. Future Footprints

“Ackerman’s optimism can feel eerily unearned in the absence of a measured acknowledgment of the losses, the traumas, the scars that afflict human and nonhuman communities in this volatile new age.”

14. The Big Sweep

“Ellroy was compared a lot to Chandler in those days. He compared himself to Tolstoy. But his true forebear was Conrad. They shared similar obsessions with the savagery at the heart of man, a kindred prose style — sentences that were concrete in their center but occasionally lush around the edges — and both swung for the fences when it came to pronouncements on the human condition.”

15. SS-­Obersturmbannführer (Retired)

“The enduring image of Eichmann as faceless and order-obeying, Stangneth argues, is the result of his uncanny ability to tailor his narrative to the desires and fantasies of his listeners. Arendt was not the only one to be taken in.”

16. Art of Murder

“Reacher is always up for a good fight, most entertainingly when he goes mano a mano with a seven-foot, 300-pound monster of a mobster named Little Joey. But it’s Reacher the Teacher who wows here, instructing Casey Nice and us in the assets of the AK-47 and the properties of bulletproof glass, while passing on neat tricks like how to stroll through airport security, buy a gun when you’re out of town and smash a guy’s nose with your elbow.”

17. Should Literature Be Considered Useful?

“Literature is the record we have of the conversation between those of us now alive on earth and everyone who’s come before and will come after, the cumulative repository of humanity’s knowledge, wonder, curiosity, passion, rage, grief and delight. It’s as useless as a spun-sugar snowflake and as practical as a Swiss Army knife (or, in Kafka’s stunning description of what a book should be, ‘an ice-axe to break the sea frozen inside us’).”

18. Put the Physical in Education

“Recent research suggests that even small amounts of exercise enable children to improve their focus and academic performance.”

19. So Bill Gates Has This Idea for a History Class …

“I remember the chain of thought. I had to do prehistory, so I have to do some archaeology. But to do it seriously, I’m going to talk about how humans evolved, so, yikes, I’m in biology now. I thought: To do it seriously, I have to talk about how mammals evolved, how primates evolved. I have to go back to multicelled organisms, I have to go back to primeval slime. And then I thought: I have to talk about how life was created, how life appeared on earth! I have to talk geology, the history of the planet. And so you can see, this is pushing me back and back and back, until I realized there’s a stopping point — which is the Big Bang.”


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