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Digging Up Diamonds with Tears, Trapping Viruses, and More

I learned how to find "permalinks" for New York Times articles, so you don't need to read the following articles this week! They'll be available forever!1 For your Shabbat/holiday reading enjoyment, or as a way to procrastinate from doing work, I offer you:

"Slow Down, Brave Multitasker, and Don't Read This in Traffic" (NYT; Sunday, March 25, 2007): I've always been proud of my ability to multi-task, but this article says that I shouldn't. Or, rather, can't. While it is true that I can fold laundry and talk on the phone at the same time or do dishes and talk on the phone at the same time, that's because one of those tasks requires almost no attention. When I have tried to instant message and talk on the phone at the same time, it's a complete disaster. I mean, I can pretend to pay attention to both things at once by interjecting "uh huhs" and "yeahs" at the right time or letting the instant messaging slow to a crawl, but I can't really do two things at once. The proof is in the fact that when our Internet and our phones were down at work one day, I got a lot more than usual done. There were no distractions! It was amazing. It also explains why I often stay at work late, after everyone has gone and nobody is e-mailing me. I get more done in those few hours than I would all day from 9-5 if I worked those godforsaken hours. (Godforsaken because 9 am is far, far too early to start working productively. 9 am is a great time to get out of bed. 8:30 also works for me.)

"Diamonds Move From Blood to Sweat and Tears" (NYT; Sunday, March 25, 2007): I've always been wary of diamonds, even aside from the very significant "blood diamond" issue. They're not that rare and their value is almost completely controlled by a few very wealthy families. It seems crazy that we appear to measure love by such a dishonest measure. The way to lower the value of diamonds is to not buy into the myth that diamonds = love (either of a man or of oneself, see new "right hand diamond ring" ad campaigns orchestrated by DeBeers). If you must have a diamond, you can avoid diamonds that directly fund conflicts, but this article shows that the people who dig the diamonds up out of the gravely earth still have pretty sucky lives. Of course, not buying diamonds won't help them much, but neither will buying diamonds, and not buying diamonds will save you money that can be put to better use elsewhere.

"Scientists Explore Ways to Lure Viruses to Their Death" (NYT, Tuesday, March 27, 2007): Very cool article from Science Times about new ideas for eradicating viruses (viri?). It looks like there is a lot of work to be done before this particular idea works, and it's not even clear that it will ever work completely, but it offers some new hope for the AIDS virus and others.

"Income Gap is Widening, Data Shows" (NYT, Thursday, March 29, 2007): This sucks.

Real estate again... "Behind Foreclosures, Ruined Credit and Hopes" (NYT, Wednesday, March 28, 2007): This sucks more.

"Losing Faith: How Scholarship Affects Scholars" (Biblical Archeology Review, March/April 2007): [Hat tip to Greg at Presence.] Fascinating! Totally up my alley! I especially love Dr. Lawrence Schiffman's take on the matter, about the strong non-literal tradition in Judaism. Great interview. This could have been a whole blog post of its own, but that would leave me precious little time for all of the other things that I have to do. And I wanted to mention it before I forgot about it. At some more leisurely point in my life, I may come back to this topic. I did touch on it, a bit, in the latter parts of this previous post.

On a less serious note... "Say Everything" (New York Magazine, February 12, 2007): The lead (is that the right word?) says the following, which makes me feel inexplicably old: "As younger people reveal their private lives on the Internet, the older generation looks on with alarm and misapprehension not seen since the early days of rock and roll. The future belongs to the uninhibited." Indeed! I guess I do reveal my private life on the Internet. Maybe it should bother me. I certainly don't do anything like what these...harumph!...young people are doing, revealing all of their sexual exploits and such. I don't think that most of what I write today will embarrass me in 20 or 30 years. I don't think I would really care if a graduate school admissions counselor read the blog. And, yes, I don't blog with my real name (though my identity is hardly concealed) to avoid the sort of Googling in which I know all potential employers and dates engage. So, eh, I guess I feel old--positively stodgy!--about protecting my privacy in these minimal ways.

Finally, a more personal real estate update. A private update, if you will. A peek into my secret life as a flesh-and-blood person. I just got a letter about our new lease for next year, and they want to raise the rent of my apartment 27%. I won't tell you what I'm paying now (because you would mock me for paying this outrageous fee to live in crowded, smelly, materialistic New York, even though I would counter that I have a great job, friends, and a two-mile commute to work that I walk on most days), but trust me, it's no bargain.

A 27% increase in utterly untenable, so I shall be moving, hopefully to a place where I can pay what I'm paying now. It will probably be a lesser apartment in some way, but at least I'll be paying what I can afford. The only real luxury I feel I can't do without is laundry in the basement of the building. I hope I don't have to give that up. Speaking of privacy and the Internet and my youthful generation of tell-alls, I don't want to have to air my dirty laundry on the street...

1. I'll let you in on the secret. First of all, you have to blog about the article while it's still available for free online for this to work. Once you're at the article, click on the "share" link, which is under the "save" link near the top of the article. The last choice under "share" is "permalink." Voila! You can also e-mail your friends these links and they'll be able to read the article after the free week is done. After a week, most New York Times articles are archived and only accessible with a TimesSelect account or for money.

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re: diamonds.
I agree, and try to put it into practice, but the paranoid-fearer-of-persecution in me does sometimes wish for "jewels" as a safety-net: in the event of social/economic catastrophe, there will almost definitely be some sort of black market, at least...
happy and kosher pesach!
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