Sunday 06.28.2015 New York Times Digest

Triangle Offense
1. The Obtuse Triangle

“The system is basketball’s Gödel, Escher, Bach, renowned for being highbrow and difficult to understand. Yet trying to get through an abstruse book about the essence of cognition is one thing; that basketball could be over our heads is somehow harder to take.”

2. ISIS and the Lonely Young American

“Even though the Islamic State’s ideology is explicitly at odds with the West, the group is making a relentless effort to recruit Westerners into its ranks, eager to exploit them for their outsize propaganda value. Through January this year, at least 100 Americans were thought to have traveled to join jihadists in Syria and Iraq, among nearly 4,000 Westerners who had done so.”

3. Straddling Old and New, a South Where ‘a Flag Is Not Worth a Job’

“The South is uniquely burdened. But the problem is fundamentally American.”

4. The Bronx Zoo’s Loneliest Elephant

“Is it right to keep intelligent and behaviorally complex animals like elephants in captivity?”

5. The Mouth Is Mightier Than the Pen

“New research shows that text-based communications may make individuals sound less intelligent and employable than when the same information is communicated orally. The findings imply that old-fashioned phone conversations or in-person visits may be more effective when trying to impress a prospective employer or, perhaps, close a deal.”

6. Regulating Sex

“The more casual sex becomes, the more we demand that our institutions and government police the line between what’s consensual and what isn’t.”

7. Maiden Names, on the Rise Again

“For many women, sociologists say, keeping their maiden names has lost its significance in defining their independence and its symbolism as a feminist act.”

8. Marilyn Minter: Pretty/Dirty

“Excommunicated from the art world in the early ’90s for her cheerful paintings of hard-core pornography — Minter said feminists accused her of sexism — today she shows her work at the Venice Biennale; she’s collected by the Guggenheim and Jay Z and is a godmother to a new generation of artists experimenting with what she calls ‘the feminine grotesque.’”

9. The Female Gaze

“Young women are pushing back at content policies on social media sites, protesting that the routine removal of images considered to be too ‘mature’ or ‘obscene’ is just another example of how women’s bodies are subject to scrutiny and policing.”

10. The Joy of (Just the Right Amount of) Sex

“Increasing the frequency of intercourse from once a month to once a week increased happiness to the same extent as having an additional $50,000 in the bank.”

11. Tell It About Your Mother

“If the great psychologists of the past were still alive today, including Sigmund Freud, I have no question that they would be using these tools to understand the brain basis for what we observe in the consulting rooms.”

12. Can the Bacteria in Your Gut Explain Your Mood?

“Micro-organisms in our gut secrete a profound number of chemicals, and researchers … have found that among those chemicals are the same substances used by our neurons to communicate and regulate mood, like dopamine, serotonin and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). These, in turn, appear to play a function in intestinal disorders, which coincide with high levels of major depression and anxiety.”

13. Confessions of a Seduction Addict

“If the man was already involved in a committed relationship, I knew that I didn’t need to be prettier or better than his existing girlfriend; I just needed to be different. (The novel doesn’t always win out over the familiar, mind you, but it often does.) The trick was to study the other woman and to become her opposite, thereby positioning myself to this man as a sparkling alternative to his regular life.”

14. The Town Shrink

“Fullilove increasingly came to see cities as ecosystems, with streams and channels, one flowing unseen into the next, disruptions wreaking havoc, threatening vitality everywhere.”

15. ‘I Don’t Believe in God, but I Believe in Lithium’

“After a few months off lithium, I felt energetic, engaged, even electric. It’s hard to know if that feeling was just a ramping up toward mania again or if it was the lifting of a lithium fog. But this is what ended up happening: I turned down jobs and burned all professional bridges with sharp and illogical emails, many of them referring to Eminem; I kept a stash of homemade granola in my pocket to hand out to anyone who would accept a stranger’s dirty pocket granola; I developed an alter ego, a rapper named Jamya; I painted my face with spectacular green-and-gold eye shadow; I was kicked out of a bar without even drinking; I stood on my head every morning; my apartment burned down; I served as the sole witness to a stranger’s wedding on top of the World Trade Center; I wore 800 necklaces and spoke in a slow growl or sometimes a high-pitched squeal; I saved a corgi from being hit by a cab on Central Park West (on which occasion Ben Vereen stopped to call a dog ambulance); I spoke to strangers with the intensity of a car salesman stuck in a Mamet monologue; I preached about Jesus wherever I went, which for a Jew is unusual; I spent almost $700 on butternut squash and assorted seasonal gourds. My clothes smelled of fire, from the burned-out apartment. I scared the scary people on the subway. All that took place over two weeks, maybe three, as I made my way back and forth between Los Angeles and New York.”

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