7.6.2008 New York Times Digest

1. “Sit. Stay. Love.”

“The field of psychotherapy has traditionally viewed those whose closest relationships are with animals as somehow lacking, their affections pathologically misplaced, their devotion a symptom of their inability to forge healthy connections with the humans around them.

But in recent years, researchers have begun to take far more seriously the bonds between humans and animals … and to evaluate those relationships in a more positive light.”

2. “At $100 for Tank of Gas, Some Choke on ‘Fill It’”

“Thirty members of the fan club’s Arizona chapter used to attend off-roading and other events three times a month. But now that Avalanche owners pay more than $100 per tank, the club is lucky to attract 10 members once every two months, said Eric Tolliver, a chapter leader.

“‘Everybody’s trying to save money on gas, so now we mostly chat online instead of driving,’ Mr. Tolliver said.”

3. “As Web Traffic Grows, Crashes Take Bigger Toll”

“The volatile emotions around Web downtime are perhaps most prevalent in the discussion around Twitter, on which users post updates on who they are with, where they are, and what they are doing.”

4. “A Political Agitator Finds a Double-Edged Weapon”

“Mr. Stark’s latest project has taken him to the Web site of Mr. Obama, who happens to be Mr. Stark’s choice for president. And while he said he did not relish making Mr. Obama a target, Mr. Stark is using the candidate’s own social-networking portal, my.barackobama.com, to confront him.”

5. “At Penn, the Subject Is Gossip”

“‘I, as an academic, am accustomed to seeing buildings with names like Newton, Copernicus, Darwin,’ said Ponzy Lu, a chemistry professor at the university. ‘Then to see the name of this person, who is very fresh in our memory, who is not associated with a pursuit of knowledge — a gossip columnist: it strikes me as being totally idiotic.’”

6. “In a Chaotic Industry, Beck Abides”

“His creative breakthrough, he said, occurred on his 2002 album, Sea Change, a set of plaintive, gimmick-free tracks inspired by a breakup. The recording process renewed his commitment to songwriting but came with consequences.”

7. “Who Let the Dogs On? You’d Be Surprised”

“‘Survivor’-esque reward challenges mean that winning pairs get the elaborate Dog Bone Suite, along with the power to banish another team to the backyard Dog House. Naturally, it’s often the humans who aren’t so well behaved.”

8. “Remembering Brainwashing”

“In the early 1950s, American troops were being killed and captured by the thousands in Korea. Panic spread that China’s Communists had learned how to penetrate and control the minds of American prisoners of war.

“The technique was called ‘brainwashing.’”

9. “If You’re Open to Growth, You Tend to Grow”

“‘People who believe in the power of talent tend not to fulfill their potential because they’re so concerned with looking smart and not making mistakes. But people who believe that talent can be developed are the ones who really push, stretch, confront their own mistakes and learn from them.’”

10. “Home Screening”

“David Gilmour is a father as well as a novelist and former film critic. He has written a memoir, The Film Club, about his decision to allow his 15-year-old son, Jesse, to drop out of school on the condition that he watch three movies a week of Gilmour’s choosing.”

11. “The Dysfunctional Jameses”

“His argument is that no single member of the family, however remarkable his or her achievement, can be understood separately from the others, and that there has as yet been no view of the family that takes into account late-20th-century work on same-sex love, gender, repression, illness, depression and alcoholism. In Fisher’s view, it has never been made apparent how ‘contemporary’ the Jameses are, how relevant to our times as ‘the forerunners of today’s Prozac-loving, depressed or bipolar, self-conscious, narcissistic, fame-seeking, self-dramatized, hard-to-mate-or-marry Americans.’”

12. “File-Sharing Fetish”

“So while pornography is no doubt culturally important and central to technological progress, I almost never run across it in my own online travels. Yes, I’m trying to seem relaxed and cosmopolitan. The truth is that pornography makes me feel tired and sulkily excluded, as if I were watching a long foreign-language play filled with hilarious jokes I’ll never understand.”

13. “Late-Period Limbaugh”

“Unlike many right-wing talk-show hosts, Limbaugh does not view France with hostility. On the contrary, he is a Francophile. His salon, he told me, is meant to suggest Versailles. His main guest suite, which I did not personally inspect, was designed as an exact replica of the presidential suite of the George V Hotel in Paris.”

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