Sunday 11.9.2014 New York Times Digest

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1. Living Life Secondhand

“Will cyberspace sidetrack us from not only outdoor but direct experience?”

2. Paternity Leave: The Rewards and the Remaining Stigma

“Taking time off for family obligations, including paternity leave, could have long-term negative effects on a man’s career — like lower pay or being passed over for promotions.”

3. Wearing Your Failures on Your Sleeve

“Failure is emerging as a badge of honor among some Silicon Valley start-ups, as entrepreneurs publicly trumpet how they have faced adversity head-on.”

4. On LinkedIn, a Reference List You Didn’t Write

“The legislators who enacted the Fair Credit Reporting Act of 1970 did not anticipate social media. They were concerned about protecting consumers who might be unfairly denied a mortgage, a rental apartment or a job because of incorrect credit histories. Among other things, the law requires companies called consumer reporting agencies — which compile and share consumers’ information with third parties for pre-employment background screening — to make sure that their reports are as accurate as possible. Customers of those agencies must also inform a consumer if he or she is being denied a job based on information in those reports. Today, it is standard practice for employers and job recruiters themselves to scour social media to identify job candidates. But the situation becomes more complicated when they hire outside firms to compile reports on potential employees.”

5. Republicans and the Puzzle of Uber

“In practice, it’s not clear Republicans are any more pro-market than Democrats when it comes to business regulation.”

6. Prehistory’s Brilliant Future

“Here we are, in the age of the microchip and the Mars explorer, and yet some of our most exciting and extraordinary scientific discoveries are extinct species in Earth’s fossil record.”

7. For Millennials, the End of the TV Viewing Party

“The television set has started to look at best like a luxury, if not an irrelevance, in the eyes of many members of the wired generation, who have moved past the ‘cord-cutter’ stage, in which they get rid of cable, to getting rid of their TV sets entirely.”

8. The Life of a Pot Critic: Clean, With Citrus Notes

“We have a restaurant critic and wine reviewers. We have an award-winning craft beer blog. From that logic you do need a pot critic — and maybe a few of them.”

9. On Twitter and Instagram, Hiding in Plain E-Sight

“Even though we know that posting a comment to the Internet is akin to broadcasting it publicly, we don’t take into consideration each and every person who may be seeing our hastily thumb-typed communication. Almost any action we take on social media, even tapping a screen twice to form a thumbs-up or heart, is a time-stamped signpost that we were paying attention to at least some of our smartphone communication.”

10. With Some Dating Apps: Less Casual Sex Than Casual Text

“More and more technophilic and commitment-phobic millennials are shying away from physical encounters and supplanting them with the emotional gratification of virtual quasi relationships, flirting via their phones and computers with no intention of ever meeting their romantic quarry: less casual sex than casual text.”

11. ‘The Glass Cage,’ by Nicholas Carr

“For all its ­miraculous-seeming benefits, automation also can and often does impair our mental and physical skills, cause dreadful mistakes and accidents, particularly in medicine and aviation, and threaten to turn the algorithms we create as servants into our mindless masters — what sci-fi movies have been warning us about for at least two or three decades now.”

12. Naomi Klein’s ‘This Changes Everything’

“Klein, Monbiot and Bill McKibben all insist that we cannot avert the ecological disaster that confronts us without loosening the grip of that superannuated zombie ideology. That philosophy — ­neoliberalism — promotes a high-consumption, ­carbon-hungry system. Neoliberalism has encouraged mega-mergers, trade agreements hostile to environmental and labor regulations, and global hypermobility, enabling a corporation like Exxon to make, as McKibben has noted, ‘more money last year than any company in the history of money.’”

13. Atul Gawande’s ‘Being Mortal’

“Medical professionals are the ones who are largely in control of how we spend our ‘waning days,’ he writes, yet they are focused on disease, not on living.”

14. ‘Empire of Sin,’ by Gary Krist

“The first American metropolis to build an opera house, New Orleans was, Krist writes, ‘the last to build a sewerage system.’”

15. Losing Our Way,’ by Bob Herbert

“The simple truth is that bridges fall down because of an unwillingness to spend the money that is necessary to build them properly and keep them in good repair.”

16. ‘Censors at Work,’ by Robert Darnton

“There are two possible ways of looking at censorship, he says: a narrow one, concentrating exclusively on the censors’ strategies, and another, more generous one that considers literature ‘as a cultural system embedded in a social order.’”

17. A Manual for Life

“The Handbook for Boys expresses the best of the American ethos as it was at the middle of the 20th century, unparalleled for its brilliance of pedagogy and its uncompromising declaration of democratic ideals.”

18. As a Writer, What Influences You Other Than Books?

“From my fellow bakers, those yeasty intellectuals, I learned about industry and cohesion and the moral obligation to be cheerful. The last lesson was the most important, and extended out of the bakery and into life. If you’re depressed, maimed, crocked in some way, fair enough — let us know. But if not, then in the name of humanity stop moaning. Keep a lightness about you, a readiness. Preserve the digestions of your co-workers; spare them your mutterings and vibings. It’s highly nonliterary, but there we are: Be nice.”

19. How One Lawyer’s Crusade Could Change Football Forever

“What if the template for football’s future is not the fate of boxing but rather that of the tobacco industry? The parallels, of course, are not perfect. But tobacco, like football, was once deeply embedded in the American economy, culture and mythology. Its history, in fact, is inseparable from that of the nation itself. The first crop was planted by an early settler in Jamestown, John Rolfe (also known as the husband of Pocahontas), and it quickly became Virginia’s largest export and a primary impetus for the growth of slavery through much of the South. Cigarette smoking surged at the beginning of the 20th century, and into the mid-1970s, about 40 percent of American adults were smokers, and they could smoke everywhere they wanted — in restaurants, on buses and airplanes, in workplaces and college classrooms, in their cars with the windows up and their children in the passenger seats.”

20. The Unbelievable Skepticism of the Amazing Randi

“For almost 60 years, he has been offering up a cash reward to anyone who could demonstrate scientific evidence of paranormal activity, and no one had ever received a single penny.”

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