Sunday 04.26.2015 New York Times Digest


1. College for the Masses

“Enrolling in a four-year college brings large benefits to marginal students.”

2. Apple Won’t Always Rule. Just Look at IBM.

“Apple is the most widely held stock in American mutual fund portfolios. IBM, the former undisputed heavyweight champion, isn’t even in the running anymore. It ranks 62nd, according to a Morningstar analysis performed at my request. IBM is still an important company, but it is struggling. Investors judge it to be worth less than one-quarter of Apple’s market value today. What happened to IBM — how it became this small, in comparison with Apple — is worth remembering.”

3. Dirty Talk and Dostoyevsky on the Night Shift

“I quickly discovered that the sexual imagination of the average man who responds to such ads tends to be fairly predictable, so much so that generic response keys had been programmed. If I steered the texter down particular garden paths it would often be a while before I needed to use any innovation. I set myself a challenge of working my way through the Russian greats during my shifts. Reading Dostoyevsky I would be pressing the key that triggered the message ‘37F,’ in response to the common question ‘What bra size are you?’ Once I had a handle on how it all worked, it was the easiest money in the world.”

4. A Brooklyn Storefront Hid an Artist’s Decades of Work

“As SoHo boomed, Mr. Bates became more alienated. His working-class roots were at odds with the culture enveloping the scene he once knew. ‘The glitz, glitter and boutiques. It became about fashion, money,’ said his wife, a librarian who had lived with Mr. Bates in his Grand Street loft throughout the ’70s. ‘That wasn’t something that Leo…’ her voice broke off. ‘He was a painter,’ she said. And in practical terms, he could not afford to stay. When he lost the lease on the loft, Mr. Bates decided to withdraw. In November 1978, he sold a batch of paintings. Using the proceeds, he made a down payment on 367 Seventh Avenue in Park Slope, moved into the apartment above the storefront and all but vanished. ‘That’s the last time he sold anything,’ Mrs. Bates said. He was 34.”

5. Push, Don’t Crush, the Students

“Does a culture of hyperachievement deserve any blame for this cluster?”

6. Dr. Oz Is No Wizard, but No Quack, Either

“This is daytime television, not the Journal of the American Medical Association.”

7. The Cost of Buying Someone’s Soul. Or Tweets.

“But it’s not just about how many followers you have, it’s about who they are. If one of your followers has a million followers of her own, or is a reporter at a big paper or the editor of a national magazine, you become that much more desirable to a company that might hope for a funny tweet that could blow up, or even become a story.”

8. It’s Not Gay Marriage vs. the Church Anymore

“An increasing number of Bible-based faith communities have an inclusive attitude toward gay families and marriages.”

9. What Role Do You Want to Play?

“We can’t be the people we are without drawing on sources outside ourselves.”

10. Beware Our Mind Children

“‘It’s like your hipster best friend that you aspire to, which is often how these companies market themselves,’ he says. ‘They’re your mate, your buddy. “Now let’s go to this club; let’s hang out.”” And a sense that the familiarity of that is just pulling your attention away from the fact that they’re going through your address book and recording everything in there. And every now and then, pulling a dollar bill out of your wallet and going, “Dude, hey.”’”

11. The Road to Character, by David Brooks

“In the age of the selfie, Brooks wishes to exhort us back to a semiclassical sense of self-restraint, self-erasure and self-suspicion.”

12. Infamy and The Train to Crystal City

“On the West Coast in 1942, roughly 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry, two-thirds of them United States citizens, were forcibly relocated and incarcerated, usually in bleak camps throughout the Rockies and Southwest. They were not charged with any crime, and the vast majority were loyal Americans. The story of this national disgrace, long buried by the victims as well as by their oppressors, has become better known in recent years, but it still has the power to shock.”

13. What Do You Read While You Write?

“The procrastination has gotten worse over the years, and of course, I blame technology. When I was younger, my go-to method for avoiding dealing with a writing assignment was to pick up a glossy magazine. My procrastination was, in a sense, solo. Now, with the proliferation of digital media, I get to procrastinate alongside thousands of others, which makes me feel less alone yet more ashamed and overcome by inertia because, well, everyone else is doing it! Misery loves company, but company is the last thing I need when what I really need is to write.”

14. The History of a City Underfoot

“While New York’s reputation as America’s great walking city is assured, the rationale behind this distinction is less certain. Yes, it is easy to get around by foot, but so are Boston and Philadelphia. Yes, it discloses its most treasured secrets only to those who explore it close to the ground, but the same could be said of San Francisco and New Orleans. Still, New Yorkers have an attachment to walking that borders on the metaphysical. Walking is not merely a way to get around New York. It is the way to be a New Yorker.”

15. How Do We Protect New York City’s Pedestrians?

“In a lot of other cities, pedestrians are people who think of themselves as drivers who happen to be walking, and therefore, they’re considerate of the concerns of the driver. But most people in New York think of themselves as pedestrians and are not so sympathetic to the driver’s perspective.”

16. The Rat Paths of New York

“New York is the rat’s ideal habitat. Our idea of what a park or public space should look like mirrors its native environment, which, contrary to the animal’s common name, was almost certainly the grassy Asian steppe. We mow grass, plant a few shrubs and low bushes, a line of trees. Then we improve on nature by adding a constant source of food, our trash. Now at least two million rats live here, maybe millions more, depending on which scientist you ask. If we’d like fewer of them around, we might start thinking about how to make the city more attractive to other animals.”

17. The Walking Cure

“Americans, he once told me, hurried too much to walk properly, whereas in Vienna, where he was a boy, there was a certain style of walking — hands clasped behind the back, head bent in conversation — that men adopted as they strolled side by side. I remember his delight at sharing the details of a book he was reading that described a walk Gustav Mahler took with Sigmund Freud in 1910 through the narrow streets of Leiden, Holland. Mahler, panicked about his marriage, had sought out Freud, who later boasted that he resolved the distraught composer’s sexual neuroses in a single ambulatory session.”

18. How to Walk in New York

“Walking in New York is not Mick Jagger. It is James Brown.”

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