Sunday 11.30.2014 New York Times Digest

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1. Why C.E.O.s Are Growing Beards

“For the first time in well over a century, a growing number of the world’s business leaders are sporting facial hair.”

2. To Lure Young, Movie Theaters Shake, Smell and Spritz

“Some theater chains are now installing undulating seats, scent machines and 270-degree screens.”

3. Where Grass Is Greener, a Push to Share Drought’s Burden

“In the American West, water flows uphill to money.”

4. Where Do We Go After Ferguson?

“If our president and our nation now don’t show the will and courage to speak the truth and remake the destinies of millions of beleaguered citizens, then we are doomed to watch the same sparks reignite, whenever and wherever injustice meets desperation.”

5. For Accomplished Students, Reaching a Good College Isn’t as Hard as It Seems

“For well-qualified students, getting into a good college isn’t difficult. It probably isn’t that much harder than it was generations ago. The fact that everyone believes otherwise shows how reliance on a single set of data — in this case, institutional admission rates — can create a false sense of what’s really going on.”

6. When Doping Isn’t Cheating

“Even Tylenol has been shown to boost endurance performance by 2 percent.”

7. Epiphany, With Encyclopedias

“It should be no surprise that for-profit scammers look for insecurities about the failure to succeed as ‘pain points’ — in the jargon of the new sales pitch — to pressure women, veterans and the unemployed into borrowing many thousands to pay for bogus courses as useless as the encyclopedia I was selling decades ago.”

8. When Whites Just Don’t Get It, Part 5

“Researchers once showed people sketches of a white man with a knife confronting an unarmed black man in the subway. In one version of the experiment, 59 percent of research subjects later reported that it had been the black man who held the knife.”

9. Sex and the Saints

“At the very least the church should make it clear that religious leaders cannot have sex with young girls just because an angel told them it was O.K. to do so.”

10. Can Mushrooms Treat Depression?

“A range of studies have suggested that controlled doses of psilocybin can help the user escape cognitive ruts of all sorts.”

11. Is Our Art Equal to the Challenges of Our Times?

“We are in the midst of hard times now, and it feels as if art is failing us.”

12. Elvis, Brooding and Alienated

“The Presley persona was produced at a moment when America’s self-image was in flux. The King achieved his televised apotheosis in 1956, a year that brought The Searchers and began with the Montgomery bus boycott. Flaming Star opened amid lunch-counter sit-ins, little more than a month after the United States elected its first Roman Catholic president. Although the movie is explicitly concerned with the conflict between white settlers and Native Americans, its coded casting, as well as the moment at which it was released, bespeak an even larger historical issue.”

13. On Instagram, Celebrities Have Jokes … Especially About Kim Kardashian

“Instagram has become the place where celebrities can mock other celebrities without the meanspiritedness usually associated with Twitter. Instagram photos cannot be reposted, which doesn’t lend itself to flame wars like those on Twitter. (There, popularity is predicated on retweets and viral comments that can blow up in a celebrity’s face overnight.) If Twitter, at times, resembles a brawl in the parking lot, Instagram seems more like gossip at the local bar.”

14. Got a Best Seller? Chipotle May Come Calling.

“A novel conceived in a prestigious Midwestern graduate workshop, polished for years in a Brooklyn brownstone and edited in a Manhattan publishing house carries a whiff of artisanal craftsmanship not so far off from that of medicinal cocktails and locally sourced furniture.”

15. Do Online Death Threats Count as Free Speech?

“What matters more: one person’s freedom to express violent rage, or another person’s freedom to live without the burden of fear?”

16. The Business Tycoons of Airbnb

“According to its fans, Airbnb, along with the car-sharing company Uber, and others, is leading us into a less wasteful, more virtuous future. In it, anyone with excess time or space — or a car and a driver’s license — can easily become an entrepreneur with little to no start-up costs. But the reality is that these markets also tend to attract a class of well-heeled professional operators, who outperform the amateurs — just like the rest of the economy.”

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