Sunday 05.31.2015 New York Times Digest

1. Let’s Celebrate the Art of Clutter

“In living, we accumulate. We admire. We desire. We love. We collect. We display.”

2. U.S. Paid Residents Linked to Nazi Crimes $20 Million in Benefits, Report Says

“The American government paid $20.2 million in Social Security benefits to more than 130 United States residents linked to Nazi atrocities over the course of more than a half-century, with some of the payments made as recently as this year.”

3. For the Warriors, Practice Makes Perfect Silliness

“All of their heaves may have a more practical purpose than many of the players realize. John Fontanella, a professor emeritus of physics at the Naval Academy and the author of the book The Physics of Basketball, said he suspected that the Warriors were giving themselves a psychological edge by attempting so many long-distance shots. ‘There is absolutely something to this idea of extreme training,’ Fontanella said in a telephone interview. ‘When you go beyond what you’re required to do, it makes your job seem a lot easier.’”

4. In Europe, Fake Jobs Can Have Real Benefits

“Inside the companies, workers rotate through payroll, accounting, advertising and other departments. They also receive virtual salaries to spend within the make-believe economy. Some of the faux companies even hold strikes — a common occurrence in France. Axisco, a virtual payment processing center in Val d’Oise, recently staged a fake protest, with slogans and painted banners, to teach workers’ rights and to train human resources staff members to calm tensions.”

5. Windshield Devices Bring Distracted Driving Debate to Eye Level

“The Navdy device falls into a booming category of in-car gadgetry that might be fairly categorized as ‘you can have your cake and eat it too.’ Drive, get texts, talk on the phone, even interact on social media, and do it all without compromising safety, according to various makers of the so-called head-up displays.”

6. The 24/7 Work Culture’s Toll on Families and Gender Equality

“The pressure of a round-the-clock work culture — in which people are expected to answer emails at 11 p.m. and take cellphone calls on Sunday morning — is particularly acute in highly skilled, highly paid professional services jobs like law, finance, consulting and accounting. Offering family-friendly policies is too narrow a solution to the problem, recent research argues, and can have unintended consequences. When women cut back at work to cope with long hours, they end up stunting their careers. And men aren’t necessarily happy to be expected to work extreme hours, either.”

7. Wanted: A Theology of Atheism

“Most Christians, especially evangelical Protestants, would find the outlines of Sunday Assembly familiar: hymns and a worship band; a sermon; afterward, coffee hour. (The organization attracts a mix of recovering believers and people who have never been religious.) The meeting last month even featured a ritual that echoed the ancient Christian practice of the Passing of the Peace, the moment when congregants reconcile with one another, often by shaking hands. Instead, the Assembly leader asked us to turn to our neighbors for a quick thumb-wrestling match.”

8. What YouTube Taught Me

“The will to teach — a close cousin of the desire to perform — far exceeds the educational value of most online tutorials.”

9. How to Find Your Place in the World After Graduation

“I based my talk on a common French expression that’s optimistic, but not grandiose: Vous allez trouver votre place. You will find your place. I’ve always liked this idea that, somewhere in the world, there’s a gap shaped just like you. Once you find it, you’ll slide right in. That still left a critical question: How do you find this place? This is especially relevant for creative types, who often won’t have a clear career sequence to follow. They’re not trying to become vice president of something. They’re the something. They’ll probably spend lots of time alone in rooms, struggling to make things.”

10. Guess Who Doesn’t Fit In at Work

“Cultural fit has morphed into a far more nebulous and potentially dangerous concept. It has shifted from systematic analysis of who will thrive in a given workplace to snap judgments by managers about who they’d rather hang out with. In the process, fit has become a catchall used to justify hiring people who are similar to decision makers and rejecting people who are not.”

11. The Pressure to Look Good

“Every day is Class Picture Day. Every phone is a camera. Every picture, or video, ends up on the Internet. Everyone, from your eighth-grade classmates to the wife of the guy you worked with 10 years ago, can see. And for every news story about Spanx giving up its grip (only to be replaced by slightly more forgiving yoga pants), or every real-size heroine like Mindy Kaling on the cover of InStyle or Rebel Wilson topping the box-office charts, it seems that here in the real world, the beauty culture has only gotten more demanding.”

12. Jerry Seinfeld, Online Force

“The less you know about a field, the better your odds.”

13. Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty, by Charles Leerhsen

“Cobb once beat up a teammate, the pitcher Ed Siever, continuing to punch him after he was probably already unconscious and then kicking him in the face. He went into the stands and severely assaulted a heckler who was missing seven fingers, having lost them in a workplace accident, even as surrounding spectators yelled, ‘He has no hands!’”

14. Travel

“Herzog’s account begs to be read aloud. Seeing a lone raven, ‘his head bowed in the rain,’ sitting ‘motionless and freezing,’ all ‘wrapped in his raven’s thoughts,’ Herzog writes, ‘A brotherly feeling flashed through me, and loneliness filled my breast.’ Later, nearly delirious from the cold, he bleakly ruminates: ‘I could hardly put one foot in front of the other. I headed toward a fire, a fire that kept burning in front of me like a glimmering wall. It was a fire of frost, one that brings on Coldness, not Heat, one that makes water turn immediately into ice.’”

15. What We Don’t See

“It’s a glib reply to a comrade’s boasting — coming out of Internet gaming forums to rebut boasts about high scores and awesome kills — but the fact is we like proof. Proof in the instant replay that decides the big game, the vacation pic that persuades us we were happy once, the selfie that reassures us that our face is still our own. ‘Pics or it didn’t happen’ gained traction because in an age of bountiful technology, when everyone is armed with a camera, there is no excuse for not having evidence.”

16. The Secret Sadness of Pregnancy With Depression

“Pregnancy is highly motivating. About a quarter of American women smoke in the three months before pregnancy, but by the last trimester only 10 percent do. This reveals how willing pregnant women are to change their behavior for the sake of the baby — and there is an increasing number of ways to do this. We have defined pregnancy as a universal Lent in which a thousand talismanic things must be forsaken for the health of the developing child. The conventional wisdom in the United States is that women should not sip half a glass of wine during pregnancy, or do the wrong kind of exercise, or take prescription medication of any kind. Some women find these relinquishments reassuring; they support an illusion that the mother’s behavior can guarantee a healthy baby. But this presumption of self-sacrifice often frightens depressed women away from seeking help.”

17. Bomani Jones Takes the Dismal Science to ESPN

“If it turned out Stevie could see, I wouldn’t be shocked.”

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