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Digital Devices Deprive Brain of Needed Downtime

At the University of California, San Francisco, scientists have found that when rats have a new experience, like exploring an unfamiliar area, their brains show new patterns of activity. But only when the rats take a break from their exploration do they process those patterns in a way that seems to create a persistent memory of the experience.

Does Your Language Shape How You Think?

If different languages influence our minds in different ways, this is not because of what our language allows us to think but rather because of what it habitually obliges us to think about.

Peace and War

Franzen grasps that the central paradox of modern American liberalism inheres not in its doctrines but in the unstated presumptions that govern its daily habits. Liberals, no less than conservatives — and for that matter revolutionaries and reactionaries; in other words, all of us — believe some modes of existence are superior to others. But only the liberal, committed to a vision of harmonious communal pluralism, is unsettled by this truth.

Steam-Driven Dreams

In an epilogue Rosen gets around to the global downside of the Industrial Revolution: the trouble that all this burning coal has gotten us into with greenhouse gases and climate change. But, he writes, the answer to our modern technology woes is not to turn back the clock. His discussion of the Luddites shows the folly of that. We need more technology, not less, he insists. “There may be no way to put the genie of sustained invention back in the bottle,” he writes, “but we can put the genie to work.”

Live Blogging the Emmy Awards

We’re a short time away from what promises to be a fascinating television showdown: can the Emmy Awards, the annual honors telecast presented by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, hold its own on a Sunday night at the end of the summer, going head to head against an N.F.L. preseason game, not to mention new episodes of some of the same shows up for top awards on the Emmys broadcast?

Finding Spot in History Without Looking

Rafael Nadal greets questions about tennis history, specifically his standing in it, as if someone spiked his Gatorade with sour milk. This is perhaps his least favorite topic. His eyes narrow. His face contorts. He often appears offended.

Following Workers’ Trails of Tears in China

The film’s unnerving railway station scenes — panoramic views of frustrated crowds surging forward, barely contained by nervous police officers with truncheons — underscore these changes and the growing specter of civil war. “The government does not have a perfect track record of dealing with dissent,” Mr. Fan said carefully. “So civil war would be a terrible thing. While I was making this film, it was difficult to figure out where to point the finger. At the government? The factory owners and corporations? The West? I’m not in a righteous place to answer, but I hope to raise this question for my audience.”

The Billionaires Bankrolling the Tea Party

There’s just one element missing from these snapshots of America’s ostensibly spontaneous and leaderless populist uprising: the sugar daddies who are bankrolling it, and have been doing so since well before the “death panel” warm-up acts of last summer. Three heavy hitters rule. You’ve heard of one of them, Rupert Murdoch. The other two, the brothers David and Charles Koch, are even richer, with a combined wealth exceeded only by that of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett among Americans. But even those carrying the Kochs’ banner may not know who these brothers are.

Waiting for Mr. Obama

Mr. Obama and his economic team had clearly hoped for an economic rebound in time for the midterm elections. They are not going to get it. The economic damage they inherited was too deep, and the economic stimulus they pushed through Congress, for all of the fight, was too small. Standing back is not doing the country or his party any good. We believe Americans are ready for hard truths and big ideas.

Egg Factory

When I was young, I thought I grasped the immensity of the Iowa landscape. The immensity of the soybean and corn fields has only grown because so many smaller farms have vanished as a result of government farm policy, which rewards economic concentration. As I turned off Highway 3 east of town, I saw that there was a newer immensity, the egg factories — an endless row of faceless buildings, as bland as a compound of colossal storage units but with the air of a prison.

Our Loss, Through the Eye of the Storm

Remembering is an exercise: to keep the memory of an event alive, we must rehearse it, recall it over and over for ourselves or in stories we tell others. And yet, in so doing, memory is often transformed, revised a bit each time in the telling — linked always to its conjoined twin, forgetting.

Outside my grandmother’s house, the hydrangea blooms again and again — the blossoms themselves like memories, each one a repetition of another, never quite the same.

Winning, Losing and War

“We won!” he yelled. “It’s over! America, we brought democracy to Iraq!”

Which naturally raises an intriguing and provocative question: Did we win? Seven years later, after all the spilled blood, after all the roadside bombs and sectarian strife, after all the terror and torment, did the United States actually win the war in Iraq?

The Politics of Polite

There are other reasons to dislike the term ma’am — for its whiff of class distinctions, for being dismissive, stiff and drab. “If someone calls me ma’am, it’s superficially a sign of respect, but it’s also creating distance,” Dr. Kroll said. “It’s saying, I’m not going to have a serious conversation with you; I’m not going to engage with you.”

Katha Pollitt, the columnist and poet, said, “It’s part of those routine word packages that are forever flying by.”

Policy Options Dwindle as Economic Fears Grow

This is where the Great Recession has taken the world’s largest economy, to a Great Ambiguity over what lies ahead, and what can be done now. Economists debate the benefits of previous policy prescriptions, but in the political realm a rare consensus has emerged: The future is now so colored in red ink that running up the debt seems politically risky in the months before the Congressional elections, even in the name of creating jobs and generating economic growth. The result is that Democrats and Republicans have foresworn virtually any course that involves spending serious money.

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