Sunday 1.17.2016 New York Times Digest

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1. Iowa’s Heartland Beyond the Campaign Trail

“Iowa is not just a reminder that America is more than the sum total of its skyscrapers and safe spaces. It also reaffirms that our nation, beginning with Iowa, is full of unsung surprises.”

2. Drug Overdoses Propel Rise in Mortality Rates of Young Whites

“The rising death rates for those young white adults, ages 25 to 34, make them the first generation since the Vietnam War years of the mid-1960s to experience higher death rates in early adulthood than the generation that preceded it.”

3. Loose Lips Sink Careers, Even for C.E.O.s

“On a daily basis I wonder if Twitter isn’t custom designed to trigger career suicide.”

4. Investing Advice That Doubles as a Bookmark

“Everything you need to know can fit on a large index card.”

5. Why I Taught Myself to Procrastinate

“While procrastination is a vice for productivity, I’ve learned — against my natural inclinations — that it’s a virtue for creativity.”

6. In Online Dating, ‘Sextortion’ and Scams

“The desire for companionship and connection makes people vulnerable to a most 21st-century crime: the online romance scam, which bilked victims of all ages and orientations out of more than $200 million last year, according to the F.B.I.”

7. How Measurement Fails Doctors and Teachers

“The objections became harder to dismiss as evidence mounted that even superb and motivated professionals had come to believe that the boatloads of measures, and the incentives to ‘look good,’ had led them to turn away from the essence of their work. In medicine, doctors no longer made eye contact with patients as they clicked away. In education, even parents who favored more testing around Common Core standards worried about the damaging influence of all the exams.”

8. Hallelujah College

“Some evangelicals have poured their energies into a different sort of Christian organization, one that has been proliferating quietly for decades at universities around the country: Christian study centers. These are not ministries, exactly, and what they do is not old-fashioned evangelism.”

9. Why I Always Wanted to Be a Secretary

“When the time came to choose between a secretarial career or the uncertain prospect of a job in academia, the choice was easy. The secretaries I knew seemed happier than the doctoral students I knew, and when they left work at the end of the day, the secretaries had plenty of time for gardening and needlepoint. I skipped all the lesson planning and paper grading, and made writing my after-hours hobby.”

10. In Praise of Blue Notes: What Makes Music Sad?

“There is a culture around any music, and how you understand that culture influences how you hear. Listening is augmented hearing, hearing through certain layers. Sometimes music follows a consensual code from maker to taker: hearing through an intellectual filter, in accordance with somebody who’s playing through the same intellectual filter. The filter doesn’t have to be sincere or true. Sometimes it can be a managed lie. But the mood survives, passed on and on.”

11. Ricky Jay and the Met Conjure Big Magic in Miniature

“Buchinger (1674-1739) was a magician and musician, a dancer, champion bowler and trick-shot artist and, most famously, a calligrapher specializing in micrography — handwriting so small it’s barely legible to the naked eye. His signature effect was to render locks of hair that, when examined closely, spelled out entire Psalms or books from the Bible. What made his feats even more remarkable is that Buchinger was born without hands or feet and was only 29 inches tall.”

12. With the Rise of Justin Trudeau, Canada Is Suddenly … Hip?

“But the notion that our neighbor to the north is a frozen cultural wasteland populated with hopelessly unstylish citizens is quickly becoming so outdated as to be almost offensive.”

13. David Bowie: Invisible New Yorker

“He traveled with this cloak of invisibility — nobody saw him. He just eradicated himself.”

14. Letter of Recommendation: Sick Days

“Sick in bed is a time to let all the thoughts of the last few months, all your experiences and memories, float up in your head, up near the ceiling, which is wobbling with fever. It is a time to take stock of your life.”

15. The Trials of Alice Goffman

“The most difficult thing about doing fieldwork is remembering who you are.”

16. The Happiness Code

“Many of CFAR’s techniques resemble a kind of self-directed version of psychotherapy’s holy trinity: learning to notice behaviors and assumptions that we’re often barely conscious of; feeling around to understand the roots of those behaviors; and then using those insights to create change. But there was something unsettling about how CFAR focused on superficial fixes while overlooking potentially deeper issues.”

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