7.13.2008 New York Time Digest

1. “On a Small Screen, Just the Salient Stuff”

“In a recent article and accompanying video posted on his Web site, Edward Tufte, the information and visualization designer at Yale, argues that the iPhone’s success is attributable in part to the decision by iPhone designers to dispense with clutter — all of the irritating buttons and menus that are part and parcel of a typical computer interface.”

2. “Still Out There (in Movie Theaters)”

I Want to Believe is, in X-Files argot, a stand-alone: a self-contained story reminiscent of several beloved early episodes in which Mulder and Scully were dispatched to a remote (but always vaguely Canadian looking) location to confront an undefined, menacing presence. Mr. Carter promises not only scares but also a beginning, middle and end, none of them overly entangled in back story. Everyone, including newcomers, is invited to jump aboard.”

3. “Just the Way He Is”

“While Bruce Springsteen has stalled the aging process through blessed genes or some Faustian bargain, Mr. Joel looks like every heartbreak, bad review, car crash and attendant tabloid dig has exacted a physical toll, so much so that if those adoring young women were to encounter him at the mall, he says, ‘they wouldn’t look twice at me.’”

4. “A Radio Shock Jock Who’s Ready for TV”

“The show works best when its elements — confessional paired with snarkiness — are conflated, as they were during a phone interview with the singer Whitney Houston in 2003. A raspy-sounding Ms. Houston called in amid public speculation that she had a drug problem. She answered Ms. Williams’s questions first with venom, then with expletives. By the end of the exchange Ms. Williams had counseled Ms. Houston to keep a healthy weight, and Ms. Houston had told Ms. Williams off, and said that she wanted to be friends with her.”

5. “It’s an Easy Sell”

“Mr. Gunn is not the only one who finds the midcentury-modern style of the show mesmerizing. Mr. Weiner, 42, recalled how he used to wear his grandfather’s narrow-lapel suits and cardigan sweaters to class at the Harvard School in Los Angeles. ‘I wasn’t beaten up for it, but, you know, it was the ’80s — skinny ties were in,’ he said. ‘I also wore eyeliner.’

“‘Your grandfather’s eyeliner?’ Mr. Hamm asked, in deadpan.”

6. “Warning: Habits May Be Good for You”

“If you look hard enough, you’ll find that many of the products we use every day — chewing gums, skin moisturizers, disinfecting wipes, air fresheners, water purifiers, health snacks, antiperspirants, colognes, teeth whiteners, fabric softeners, vitamins — are results of manufactured habits.”

7. “Coldpage”

“In the last several years, virtually everyone trying to sell music has found it necessary to keep a presence on MySpace. It’s there that music fans and A.& R. people alike play new songs, watch music videos, check concert information and chat with cybergroupies. And no matter how intensely rock stars balk at every part of the commercial-studded site that is controlled by Rupert Murdoch, they cave in and post a page. (Oh, yes, even the musician identified as ‘Bob Dylan — NEW YORK, New York — Classic Rock/Folk Rock — http://www.myspace.com/bobdylan’ has one.)”

8. “Pill-Popping Pets”

“The practice of prescribing medications designed for humans to animals has grown substantially over the past decade and a half, and pharmaceutical companies have recently begun experimenting with a more direct strategy: marketing behavior-modification and ‘lifestyle’ drugs specifically for pets. America’s animals, it seems, have very American health problems. More than 20 percent of our dogs are overweight; Pfizer’s Slentrol was approved by the F.D.A. last year as the country’s first canine anti-obesity medication. Dogs live 13 years on average, considerably longer than they did in the past; Pfizer’s Anipryl treats cognitive dysfunction so that absent-minded pets can remember the location of the supper bowl or doggy door. For lonely dogs with separation anxiety, Eli Lilly brought to market its own drug Reconcile last year. The only difference between it and Prozac is that Reconcile is chewable and tastes like beef.”

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