9.7.2008 New York Times Digest

1. “Beyond the Vanishing Barns, a Changing Iowa”

“When the W.P.A.’s writers came through, they wrote that Iowa had 221,986 separate farms on land totaling more than 34 million acres. Today, on only a little less land (31.5 million acres), Iowa has just 88,400 farms. More than half the farmland is owned by people 65 years old or older, an Iowa State University farm economist says, and about half of that is owned by those 75 or older.”

2. “The Risky Leap From Screen to Stage”

“Broadway, it seems, has eclipsed Playboy as the place to make Hollywood pay attention. There was a time when female movie stars who felt they were being ignored by the industry took off their clothes for Hugh Hefner’s magazine. Now they brush up their Shakespeare — or Schnitzler or Miller — and hit Gotham.”

3. “Drama That Brings Home the Bacon”

“Our American Drama is the drama of the workplace. It is there that we live our lives, and make our closest friends. We are a nation of workers, which accounts for our prosperity, and our current ill odor among our socialized comrades in Europe. We live to work.”

4. “The Revolution Is Dead, Long Live the Revolution”

“As long as there’s been a Hollywood, there has been an off-Hollywood, outsiders and mavericks who show their movies any which way they can, at film societies, art houses and ethnic theaters.”

5. “It’s Suddenly So Last Year, That Once Bold New Guard”

“The specialty divisions, along with some of the larger independent distributors, have kept alive, and to some extent rejuvenated, the venerable Hollywood tradition of prestige filmmaking, albeit on a more modest scale. The literary adaptations, the serious dramas, the bravura acting and audacious direction — quality movies, movies for grown-ups, movies that depend on good reviews in The New York Times — these make their way into the multiplexes, branded not as middlebrow popular art but rather as art-house fare.”

6. “An Obsession With Justice and Auto Parts”

“Mr. Kearns’s brilliant idea was the intermittent windshield wiper. It would swipe water away in a light rain, pause, then swipe again.”

7. “A Young Outsider’s Life Turned Inside Out”

“In the past few months alone, she’s been nominated for an MTV Video Music Award, almost unheard of for a country artist; been hounded by pop-star-size gossip (romantically linked to Joe Jonas of the Jonas Brothers, a connection she denies); and signed a deal with Jakks Pacific, which makes Pokémon toys, for a line of Taylor Swift fashion dolls to be released this fall.”

8. “When Academia Puts Profit Ahead of Wonder”

“In the past, discovery for its own sake provided academic motivation, but today’s universities function more like corporate research laboratories. Rather than freely sharing techniques and results, researchers increasingly keep new findings under wraps to maintain a competitive edge. What used to be peer-reviewed is now proprietary. ‘Share and share alike’ has devolved into ‘every laboratory for itself.’”

9. “On Dividend Taxes, It’s a Post-Partisan Race”

“Senator John McCain wants to maintain the current tax rate of 15 percent on dividends (while cutting the corporate tax), but it is a good bet that if Senator McCain is elected president, while Congress remains Democratic, Congress won’t give the Republican president what he wants. They would instead let the Bush tax cuts expire, returning the dividend tax for high-income taxpayers to about 40 percent.

“By contrast, if Mr. Obama is elected, Congressional Democrats will be less likely to balk at his proposed 20 percent dividend tax rate and thus embarrass the new president from their own party.

“This leads to one of the great ironies of the political season. On the issue of dividend taxation, Barack Obama may be the candidate with the best chance of preserving George Bush’s legacy.”

10. “Nasty Boys”

“They move into communal housing with their college buddies. They work dead-end jobs. ‘The young have been raised in a culture that promises instant gratification,’ he tells us. ‘The idea of working hard for future rewards just doesn’t resonate with them.’ They play video games like Grand Theft Auto, in which the player’s avatar can have sex with a prostitute and recover his money by murdering her. They watch pornography in groups, ‘jiving with each other about what they’d like to do to the girl on the screen.’ They ‘“hook up” occasionally with a “friend with benefits,” go out with their buddies, drink too much and save too little.’ They listen to violent rap music and to talk radio hosts who encourage their sense of ‘aggrieved entitlement’ toward a world that has snatched away the masculine dominance they imagined would someday be theirs.”

11. “Sweet Revenge”

“Since coming in well after Pinkberry had put tart ‘fro-yo,’ as fans call it, on the food-fad map, and carrying with it a plausible claim to being the creator of that very fad, Red Mango has opened 36 stores and attracted its own fan base.”

12. “I’m So Totally, Digitally Close to You”

“Each little update — each individual bit of social information — is insignificant on its own, even supremely mundane. But taken together, over time, the little snippets coalesce into a surprisingly sophisticated portrait of your friends’ and family members’ lives, like thousands of dots making a pointillist painting.”

13. “Brains of the Outfit”

“With his enviable personal fortune (gained largely from the sale of his father’s timber business in 1997), his rarefied social circle (this summer, he attended Yves Saint Laurent’s all-star funeral), his bombshell wife (the actress-chanteuse Arielle Dombasle) and his own rock-star good looks (at 59, he still has the slim physique, chiseled profile and leonine locks of a man half his age), B.H.L. draws a level of tabloid coverage otherwise reserved solely for a Couple Called Sarkozy. On American shores as well, the news media have developed a fascination with what Graydon Carter … laughing calls ‘all the glamour plus the exposed nipples.’ ‘God is dead but my hair is perfect’ is just one of the bons mots the press has coined for him, casting him as an improbable blend of Friedrich Nietzsche and Beau Brummell.”

14. “Portrait of a Lady Killer”

“I don’t believe in God, but I believe in Al Pacino.”

One response to “9.7.2008 New York Times Digest

  1. Hi. I read a few of your other posts and wanted to know if you would be interested in exchanging blogroll links?

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