7.20.2008 New York Times Digest

1. “Stet”

“I am stumped by how to excerpt the language on message boards and blogs.”

2. “Needing a Star, CNBC Made One”

“As with any anchor role, looks play their part and Ms. Burnett’s striking features have complemented her hard work, smoothing her ascent. ‘There is an element of TV that is visual. You can’t deny that,’ she says. ‘But you’re not going to be able to move to the next level without the passion, the contacts, the journalistic drive.’”

3. “Conservative Thinkers Think Again”

“Across the spectrum of the right, writers and thinkers have turned their relentless analysis inward, a kind of political EST seminar aimed at self-transformation.”

4. “Los Angeles: Hotel Palomar”

“Picture a W hotel, with lower prices and a sense of humor.”

5. “Pfffffffffft! There Goes the Vacation”

“This summer, the vacation has become a no-win situation: unattainable for those who can’t afford it, dispiriting and unsatisfying for many who can.”

6. “Here’s Looking at Me, Kid”

“But while it has acquired a silly elasticity, it has also acquired rich layers of meaning. For though the word has a derogatory stamp, the very people we label narcissistic often are those who attract as well as repel us.”

7. “Advice Squad”

“If you’re ready to submit to the genre, you must first risk being seen with shiny new titles, since the genre styles itself as a science, complete with routine Copernican breakthroughs. Active listening, for example — ‘I experience you as being angry’ — was once mandatory for couples in trouble; now it’s considered the royal road to divorce. We also used to believe that you shouldn’t wait for a man to sweep you off your feet, when it turns out you should. Bedrock beliefs are debunked as dangerous delusions, only to be rebunked and then revealed as myths yet again. That’s the metacycle of self-help, as efficient as a Ben Franklin day.”

8. “Me and My Girls”

“If I said I was a fat thug who beat up women and sold bad coke, would you like my story? What if instead I wrote that I was a recovered addict who obtained sole custody of my twin girls, got us off welfare and raised them by myself, even though I had a little touch of cancer? Now we’re talking. Both are equally true, but as a member of a self-interpreting species, one that fights to keep disharmony at a remove, I’m inclined to mention my tenderhearted attentions as a single parent before I get around to the fact that I hit their mother when we were together. We tell ourselves that we lie to protect others, but the self usually comes out looking damn good in the process.”

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