Sunday 9.27.2015 New York Times Digest

1. Stop Googling. Let’s Talk.

“Studies of conversation both in the laboratory and in natural settings show that when two people are talking, the mere presence of a phone on a table between them or in the periphery of their vision changes both what they talk about and the degree of connection they feel. People keep the conversation on topics where they won’t mind being interrupted. They don’t feel as invested in each other. Even a silent phone disconnects us.”

2. How Lee Child, Author of the Jack Reacher Novels, Spends His Sundays

“The secret disadvantage that writers have is that writing takes away from reading time. So it’s very appealing to me to say I’ll take the evening off and read a book. I’ll read absolutely anything. I read my peers and contemporaries because at a certain level a book is almost a diary of how that person felt during that year. So I read all my friends to catch up on their news.”

3. Complex Car Software Becomes the Weak Spot Under the Hood

“New high-end cars are among the most sophisticated machines on the planet, containing 100 million or more lines of code. Compare that with about 60 million lines of code in all of Facebook or 50 million in the Large Hadron Collider.”

4. Smaller, Faster, Cheaper, Over: The Future of Computer Chips

“When you’re thinking that big, bumping into the limits of physics could be a most humbling experience.”

5. A Better Government, One Tweak at a Time

“Following this recipe may yield a government that’s just like Google: clear, user-friendly and unflinchingly effective.”

6. How Not to Be a Networking Leech

“Here are some tips to help you avoid becoming a networking parasite.”

7. Download: Cassian Folsom

“Monks try to escape from the world, but the world kind of runs after us.”

8. Donald Trump, Our Reality TV Candidate

“Donald Trump is the presidential candidate that reality TV made. An electorate trained in voting contestants on and off shows like American Idol wants to keep him around because he makes things interesting. Instead of any plausible policy stance, Mr. Trump has built his campaign around an entertaining TV persona.”

9. Why Students Hate School Lunches

“In France, where the childhood obesity rate is the lowest in the Western world, a typical four-course school lunch (cucumber salad with vinaigrette, salmon lasagna with spinach, fondue with baguette for dipping and fruit compote for dessert) would probably not pass muster under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, because of the refined grains, fat, salt and calories. Nor would the weekly piece of dark chocolate cake.”

10. Steve Martin Adds ‘Curator’ to His Wild and Crazy Résumé

“He said that Harris often reminded him of Edward Hopper, who is at the core of his own collection, but he admitted that the connection was personal, ‘not art historical — their pictures don’t even look alike.’ Rather, the painters seemed to share an obsession with isolation. ‘For Hopper, isolation meant desolation,’ he said, adding that the cosmopolitan Harris found meaning and beauty in it. ‘He was trying to be alone.’”

11. Robert Zemeckis, Master of Illusion, Returns

“Mr. Kehr takes the position that Mr. Zemeckis, who, beginning with Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), has been perhaps the most digitally adventurous of Hollywood filmmakers, is unfairly dismissed as a technician and misleadingly typecast as a purveyor of feel-good entertainment. A former critic who contributed to The New York Times, Mr. Kehr sees a darker worldview. He has characterized Roger Rabbit, for example, as a caustic allegory of American race relations worthy of Mark Twain.”

12. How to Take a Class From Serena Williams and Usher

“Mr. Rogier’s idea was this: a series of online courses taught by people who are the best in the world at what they do. How about an acting class taught by Mr. Hoffman or Kevin Spacey? Want to finally write that novel? Perhaps you would like to study with James Patterson, who has sold upward of 300 million books. If tennis is your thing, here’s Serena Williams, who will share with you the secret of her cunning forehand.”

13. How to Ask for Forgiveness, in Four Steps

“The most important step is to understand how your actions affected others.”

14. Selfish, by Kim Kardashian West, and More

“Kardashian wants us to know that she is leading a beautiful life, that it is peopled by beautiful friends, all of whom reflect or enhance her own beauty, but the question for you and me is: Are we in any kind of danger here? Is Kardashian a threat to us? Or should we look to her, instead, as exemplar, as someone with much to teach us about mastering our own selfish lives?”

15. The Invention of Nature, by Andrea Wulf

“The transcendentalism in much of Humboldt’s writing deeply affected Whitman, Thoreau, Poe and the English Romantics. In South America the liberator Simón Bolívar, whom Humboldt had known in Paris, asserted that the German’s vision had awakened the South American people to pride in their continent. Later, environmentalists from George Perkins Marsh to John Muir saw Humboldt as their spiritual ancestor.”

16. Cabins, the New American Dream

“According to legend, the cabin and the shack are ideal launchpads for remarkable lives, but lately they’ve become homes to aspire to — particularly for overburdened types whose acquisitive binging has made them want to purge.”

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