Sunday 01.18.2015 New York Times Digest


1. Among the Disrupted

“Aside from issues of life and death, there is no more urgent task for American intellectuals and writers than to think critically about the salience, even the tyranny, of technology in individual and collective life.”

2. From Amateur to Ruthless Jihadist in France

“If we have such a hard time regulating something as simple as cigarettes, how do you expect us to regulate something as abstract as ideas, as religion?”

3. Lower Oil Prices Provide Benefits to U.S. Workers

“The latest drop in energy prices … is disproportionately helping lower-income groups.”

4. Restoring ‘Wonder Theater’ Movie Palaces to Glory

“The renovation effort was herculean…. When it started two years ago, he said, workers discovered that water had corroded vast sections of decorative plaster, carpets squished underfoot, light fixtures had been torn from the walls, pigeons roosted in the ceiling and a naked man was found curled up on the stage, alive but startled when police officers and two workers woke him.”

5. In Charge, and Sounding the Part

“As people gain authority, their voice quality changes, becoming steadier in pitch, more varied in volume and less strained. Power sounds distinctive, creating hierarchies measurable through waves of sound.”

6. The Power of a Simple Nudge

“Community college students received texts reminding them to complete their re-enrollment forms, particularly aid applications. Among freshmen who received the texts, 68 percent went on to complete their sophomore year, compared with 54 percent of those who got no nudges.”

7. After PTSD, More Trauma

“There are many reasons to be disappointed, even angry with the V.A. right now — the unforgivably long wait times, the erratic quality of care, the reports of administrators’ falsifying records to cover up those shortcomings. My own disappointment is that after waiting three months, after completing endless forms, I was offered an overhyped therapy built on the premise that the best way to escape the aftereffects of hell was to go through hell again.”

8. The Best Way to Get Over a Breakup

“For many, the key may turn out to be some self-reflection, but not too much: writing about your feelings, ‘but then not necessarily mulling over it or doing any more. Just write it, talk about it, leave it, do it again.’”

9. Toilets for the People

“A disproportionate amount of poop on the streets is not from dogs but from humans.”

10. Mean Girls in the Retirement Home

“High school doesn’t last forever, everyone grows up. But Nanna’s experience suggests otherwise. It says that the cruel, like the poor, are always with us, that mean girls stay mean — they just start wearing support hose and dentures.”

11. Packing Heat at the Airport? Oops

“Increasingly, screeners for the Transportation Security Administration are detaining travelers for more than their toiletries or electronics. Gun confiscations at checkpoints have been on the rise, reaching approximately 2,200 last year, the agency reported, a 20 percent increase over the previous year and 230 percent more than in 2005. A vast majority of the weapons were loaded and had bullets in the chamber.”

12. Why Some Teams Are Smarter Than Others

“The smartest teams were distinguished by three characteristics. First, their members contributed more equally to the team’s discussions, rather than letting one or two people dominate the group. Second, their members scored higher on a test called Reading the Mind in the Eyes, which measures how well people can read complex emotional states from images of faces with only the eyes visible. Finally, teams with more women outperformed teams with more men. Indeed, it appeared that it was not ‘diversity’ (having equal numbers of men and women) that mattered for a team’s intelligence, but simply having more women. This last effect, however, was partly explained by the fact that women, on average, were better at ‘mindreading’ than men.”

13. Is a Climate Disaster Inevitable?

“The defining feature of a technological civilization is the capacity to intensively ‘harvest’ energy. But the basic physics of energy, heat and work known as thermodynamics tell us that waste, or what we physicists call entropy, must be generated and dumped back into the environment in the process. Human civilization currently harvests around 100 billion megawatt hours of energy each year and dumps 36 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the planetary system, which is why the atmosphere is holding more heat and the oceans are acidifying.”

14. At the Super Bowl of Linguistics, May the Best Word Win

“If wordsmiths had a Super Bowl, this would be it, a place where the nation’s most well-regarded grammarians, etymologists and language enthusiasts gather to talk shop.”

15. A Voice Still Heard: Selected Essays of Irving Howe

“He was an American Orwell: our most thrilling dissident, a socialist with conservative cultural sympathies, a scything polemicist capable of the most tender, patient literary explication. Unlike Orwell, Howe never went on great foreign adventures — there was no journalism in him. And his standing will never be buoyed by his novels, because there aren’t any. But Orwell and Howe shared a romantic vision of their chosen path in life, and it’s that ­marrow-deep commitment to heterodoxy that makes the current climate feel uninspired and careerist by contrast.”

16. The Point of Order

“Most people now think of the police primarily in their role of crime fighting. But it is at least as much their other original mandate, the prevention of disorder, that perpetuates the suspicion many hold for them. Order is a subjective thing, and the people who define it are not often the people who experience its imposition.”

17. Try This at Home!

“You can’t self-censor art based on the possibility that some people might misunderstand the point.”

18. A 12-Hour Window for a Healthy Weight

“Meal times have more effect on circadian rhythm than dark and light cycles.”



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