Sunday 9.28.2014 New York Times Digest


1. How to Stop Time

“Are we imposing standards on ourselves that make us mad?”

2. Today’s Police Put On a Gun and a Camera

“The rising use of cameras has put the police in a complex and uncertain landscape of public records law.”

3. For Muslims, Social Media Debate on Extremism Is Reflected in Dueling Hashtags

“The group … began a campaign this month built around the Twitter hashtag #notinmyname, which has denounced the beheading of the British aid worker David Haines and other brutal acts committed by the radical group Islamic State. The hashtag has been tweeted tens of thousands of times, and a YouTube video promoting the campaign has more than 200,000 views. But the campaign has spawned a satirical reaction from Muslims who say it presumes that they are somehow collectively responsible for Islamic extremism.”

4. Colleges Make It Easier for Students to Show, Not Tell, in Their Applications

“A prospective student may apply by submitting two pieces of work (at least one of them a graded high school writing assignment) and a two-minute video, rather than a high school transcript.”

5. Sunday Routine: Vincent Piazza

“I have this thing that I’ve been doing for the last few years where I make it my business, no matter what, to read 30 pages of a book a day.”

6. With His Words and Deeds, Derek Jeter Never Entered Foul Territory

“In 20 years of living onstage in New York City, the so-called media capital of the world, Derek Jeter has never played ball. He has never been caught in a compromising position. He has never embarrassed himself. After a long shift at the ballpark, he has never been known to ooze into one of those establishments that tabloids call jiggle joints, or to stumble out of some meatpacking-district hot spot after too much Veuve Clicquot.”

7. The Unrepentant Bootlegger

“Ms. Beshara … still can’t accept that what she was doing deserved the heavy hammer of the law. She served 16 months in prison for conspiracy and criminal copyright infringement, but she still talks about NinjaVideo as something grand. It was a portal that spirited her away from the doldrums of her regular life as a receptionist living with her parents to an online community that regarded her as its queen. Sure, she showed movies that were still playing in theaters, but it seemed like harmless, small-stakes fun.”

8. Turning Programming Into Child’s Play

“When we teach children how to read and write, we don’t expect everyone to become a journalist or a novelist. But we believe they’ll be able to think in new ways because it opens the doors to thinking. We believe the same thing for the skills of programming and engineering.”

9. Looking at Productivity as a State of Mind

“A modern version of the spirit of Taylorism is sorely needed. It’s time to identify and optimize the specific psychologies that constitute the mental alchemy of productivity.”

10. Pearls of Career Wisdom, Found in the Trash

“Before I was an E.V.P., S.V.P. or V.P., I worked as a janitor. For two summers I cleaned toilets, mopped floors and smelled like garbage. It had nothing to do with my chosen profession. And yet nothing was better for preparing me for work and life as an adult.”

11. The Wilds of Education

“Isn’t education supposed to provoke, disrupt, challenge the paradigms that young people have consciously embraced and attack the prejudices that they have unconsciously absorbed?”

12. Why We Sit Back and Let Apps Do Our Chores

“How do we judge whether technology is making us more productive, or just lazy and impatient?”

13. Building an Ark for the Anthropocene

“By 2100, researchers say, one-third to one-half of all Earth’s species could be wiped out. As a result, efforts to protect species are ramping up as governments, scientists and nonprofit organizations try to build a modern version of Noah’s Ark.”

14. Learning to Love Criticism

“If a woman wants to do substantive work of any kind, she’s going to be criticized — with comments not just about her work but also about herself.”

15. Object Lessons in History

“Objects seem to be emerging as history’s lingua franca.”

16. So You’re Not a Physicist…

“Nothing is intrinsically wrong with applying scientific language metaphorically to human experience. Metaphors are valuable when our experiences are enigmatic or difficult to capture, when existing words don’t fit the situation at hand. Even the incorrect use of technical terms can meaningfully express what we intuit but cannot otherwise say.”

17. Kicking the Facebook Habit

“In our age of so-called social media, my act is inexcusably antisocial. I don’t tumble, tweet or Instagram. I am not linked in, nor have I pinned a pin on Pinterest. But no Facebook? Even in our most secluded moments, Facebook puts the spite in respite; we are expected to brag-post our feet on a lounge chair on some Greek isle, or our wet baby moments after its birth. It’s an orgy of insistent intimacy. I ached to abstain.”

18. The Cult Deficit

“The decline of cults, while good news for anxious parents of potential devotees, might actually be a worrying sign for Western culture, an indicator not only of religious stagnation but of declining creativity writ large.”

19. Pynchon’s Cameo, and Other Surrealities

I know that they talked a lot. Sometimes, he’d say, ‘Oh, I talked to Pynchon last night, and we were talking, he thought maybe it could be like this or like that.’ It was pretty amazing, because it seemed like he was very active in the process through Paul. It seemed like they talked often and he would make suggestions or talk about how to condense three scenes into one.”

20. For Arianna Huffington and Kobe Bryant: First, Success. Then Sleep.

“When you watch me shoot my fadeaway jumper, you’ll notice my leg is always extended. I had problems making that shot in the past. It’s tough. So one day I’m watching the Discovery Channel and see a cheetah hunting. When the cheetah runs, its tail always gives it balance, even if it’s cutting a sharp angle. And that’s when I was like: My leg could be the tail, right?”

21. A Defining Question in an iPhone Age: Live for the Moment or Record It?

“To live the moment or record the moment? It’s become a defining dilemma of the iPhone age.”


22. As Blondie Turns 40, a Look Back Through Chris Stein’s Lens

“Though the photographs in the book span the band’s four decades, they’re rooted mostly in the punk scene that emerged in the ’70s and ’80s, paralleling Blondie’s rise. Their star subject is the astonishingly photogenic Deborah Harry, who, in an essay in the book, calls Stein’s casually intimate pictures ‘the most real and unguarded and ultimately revealing’ of the era’s images of her.”

23. A Night Out With Stephin Merritt, the Singer for Magnetic Fields

“I’m amazed that everyone else is willing to put in a part-time job worth of work in order to manage their social media accounts. I’m too busy playing Scrabble and Words With Friends.”

24. A Recipe for Air Rage

“I find myself thinking of John B. Calhoun’s seminal overpopulation research, published in Scientific American in the 1960s, which found that as rats were increasingly crowded together they became ever more aggressive and exhibited ‘behavior disturbances’ from ‘frenetic overactivity’ to ‘pathological withdrawal.’”

25. Disquiet on the Set

“‘I neither loved nor hated him.’ But he admits: ‘At one point I did seriously plan to firebomb him in his home.’”

26. No Pain, No Game

“At any given instant thousands of people suffer and die, in vain, unjustly, and we are not affected: Our existence is possible only at this price. Sade’s merit is not only that he cried aloud that which each person shamefully admits to himself, but that he did not reconcile himself to it. He chose cruelty over indifference.”

27. Attention Must Be Paid

“As an instructive social parable, Richtel’s densely reported, at times forced yet compassionate and persuasive book deserves a spot next to Fast Food Nation and To Kill a Mockingbird in America’s high school curriculums.”

28. All Atwitter

“The book seems to desublimate itself for you: No sooner does the reader think, ‘This is like the case of Louis Althusser’s murder of his wife,’ than some character makes the comparison for you. The result is provocatively comic, and surreal in the manner of a Max Ernst collage.”

29. The Woman Who Walked 10,000 Miles (No Exaggeration) in Three Years

“Her body changed, and her mind changed, too. Her senses sharpened to the point that she could smell shampoo on a tourist’s hair from a mile away. ‘One day you walk 12 hours, and you don’t feel pain,’ Marquis said. The past and present telescope down to an all-consuming now. ‘There is no before or after. The intellect doesn’t drive you anymore. It doesn’t exist anymore. You become what nature needs you to be: this wild thing.’”

30. Just Say No

“If part of being a happy person is having the ability to say yes — to new people, ideas and experiences — part of being a stylish one seems to be the ability to say no. Mastery of the art of refusal is something every person of great style I’ve ever come across shares: the confidence to reject trends or conventions — whether of living, dressing or decorating — that don’t feel uplifting or authentic.”

31. A Golden Age of Design

“The golden age of design has been heralded many times over the past couple of decades — four, by my count. Now, this previous momentum paired with technology, community and big business has fueled something new: an unprecedented belief in the power of design to not only elevate an idea, but be the idea.”

32. Fringe Benefits

“Bangs are not for seeing; they’re for being seen. On the runway this fall, Louis Vuitton and Saint Laurent had them choppy, showing a little skin. Short bangs are severe, just a bit aggressive — they don’t hesitate. These long bangs are more mysterious. Black-ringed eyes peer out, spooky and sheltered, the forehead hidden. The rest of the hair hangs loose and straight. Big hair, little face: The look is Anna Karina, Jane Birkin, Juliet Berto, Nico. Geniuses of style, all those women used their bangs to hold something back.”

33. The Brains and Braun of Dieter Rams

“Good design is honest.”

34. In Praise of the Humble Knot

“Knot enthusiasts like to say that civilization is held together by knots. It sounds like a wisecrack — but if you take a look around, you may begin to see the truth behind the quip.”


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