10.26.2008 New York Times Digest

1. “Designed to Sell”

“If you consumed magazine advertising during the late 1950s and early ’60s, you might recall there was a shift from the straightforward hawking of goods, using often humorless and ham-handed promotional tools — trade characters, slogans, testimonials, romanticized and idealized illustrations — to surprisingly ironic, convention-busting campaigns (for example, the one for the Volkswagen ‘lemon’).”

2. “In a New Age of Impatience, Cutting PC Start Time”

“‘It’s ridiculous to ask people to wait a couple of minutes,’ said Sergei Krupenin, executive director of marketing of DeviceVM, a company that makes a quick-boot program for PC makers. ‘People want instant-on.’”

3. “Lou Dorfsman, Design Chief at CBS, Dies at 90”

“Unlike so many product advertisements created by Madison Avenue, which in the 1940s and ’50s were visually mundane and text-heavy, Mr. Dorfsman’s designs featured clear typography, simple slogans and smart illustration.”

4. “Barack Obama, Forever Sizing Up”

“Mr. Obama resists making quick judgments or responding to day-to-day fluctuations, aides say. Instead he follows a familiar set of steps: Perform copious research. Solicit expertise. (What delighted Mr. Obama most about becoming a United States senator, he told an old boss, was his access to top scholars: he was a kid in the Princeton and Stanford candy shops.) Project all likely scenarios. Devise a plan. Anticipate objections. Adjust the plan, and once it’s in place, stick with it.”

5. “Can I Get an Arrgh?”

“Longtime pirate enthusiasts, the 17th-century historical re-enactors who take their hobby seriously, find themselves sharing festival grounds with legions of would-be Captain Jack Sparrows dressed, more or less, in accordance with the big-screen version. Are they pretend pretend pirates? Traditionalists tend to view this new family-friendly theme thing with a sort of dismissive acceptance.”

6. “At Pundit School, Learning to Smile and Interrupt”

“Before the three-hour training session was over, Mr. Freire would learn what color jacket looks good on TV (charcoal gray), that the no-tie look popularized by Barack Obama is O.K. (‘Conservatives are stuck in a white shirt, red tie, navy blue suit style,’ one of his coaches observed), and how to get his message across no matter what he’s asked.”

7. “No Labels for the Twins but Their Own”

“Skinny girls with blank expressions and seemingly little inclination to speak have fascinated American culture for so long that their proliferation now, in magazines like Us Weekly and In Touch and shows like The Hills, seems less a modern scourge than a historic inevitability. The mid-19th century witnessed the emergence of the aptly named fasting girls, women in their teens and early 20s whose silence and diminutive size stirred the interest of a public that believed they were spiritually extraordinary. Later they found analogues in figures like Edie Sedgwick, on whom so many fantasies — stylistic, sexual, psychological — were projected, and more recently in the phenomenon of the Olsen twins.”

8. “Begorrah! Irish Cops, Yet Again”

“For all its occasional scandals and never-ending internal strife, the department remains one of the finest law-enforcement agencies in the world, and those officers in the passing patrol cars are black and white, Hispanic and Asian. Still, these familiar story lines, especially about the Irish and about loyalty-protected corruption, endure.”

9. “Top Yeller”

“Mays is a celebrity endorser whose celebrity is based entirely on having endorsed things.”

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