6.14.2009 New York Times Digest

14lives_500

1. “Bridge to Somewhere”

“The new four-lane bridge will mean that commercial vehicles traveling between Phoenix and Las Vegas will no longer take the scenic route — the winding, narrow roadway, built in 1936, that leads across the dam. Set to be completed next year, the $114 million bridge will be supported by the longest concrete arch in the country.”

2. “Bridging the Gap”

“Our roads and bridges are crumbling, yes, but most are also mediocre, reflecting neither engineering sense nor architectural sensibility.”

3. “Corner House”

“People understand landscape as a scenic picture. For me the deeper meaning is about how your body uses landscape. So walking, cycling, gardening, all the ways you usethe land, are more fundamental than just its appearance.”

4. “Data Center Overload”

“Much of the daily material of our lives is now dematerialized and outsourced to a far-flung, unseen network. The stack of letters becomes the e-mail database on the computer, which gives way to Hotmail or Gmail. The clipping sent to a friend becomes the attached PDF file, which becomes a set of shared bookmarks, hosted offsite. The photos in a box are replaced by JPEGs on a hard drive, then a hosted sharing service like Snapfish. The tilting CD tower gives way to the MP3-laden hard drive which itself yields to a service like Pandora, music that is always ‘there,’ waiting to be heard. But where is ‘there,’ and what does it look like?”

5. “Getting Up to Speed”

“If it can get started, the California high-speed train would almost certainly be the most expensive single infrastructure project in United States history. And if it is completed, the train will go from L.A. to San Francisco in just under 2 hours 40 minutes and from L.A. to Sacramento in about 2 hours 17 minutes. Judging by the experiences of Japan and France, both of which have mature high-speed rail systems, it would end the expansion of regional airline traffic as in-state travelers increasingly ride the fast trains. And it would surely slow the growth of highway traffic. Other potential benefits are also intriguing: a probable economic windfall for several cities along the route, with rejuvenated neighborhoods and center cities; several hundred thousand jobs in construction, manufacturing, operations and maintenance; and the environmental benefits that come from vehicles far more efficient and far less polluting than jets, buses and cars.”

6. “The Tweet Smell of Success”

“In separating the wheat from the chaff, Twitter has become a kingmaker of sorts, conferring online stardom to a mix of writers, gadget geeks, political commentators and entrepreneurs.”

7. “‘The Greatest’: What a Concept”

“One of the allures of competitive sport is its conclusiveness: the scoreboard says who won, who lost, go home. It’s when each of these daily pixels is considered part of a larger picture that things get far more fuzzy. And loud.”

8. “A Plea for Tolerance in Tight Shorts. Or Not.”

“As roles go, there is no ambiguity about Brüno: he is a limp-wristed, sex-crazed queen. Universal’s promotional materials show him dressed in hot pants, leopard bikini underwear and riding nude on a unicorn.”

9. “Henry Fairlie: The Gentleman Delinquent”

“‘Even in the louche world of Fleet Street, where every vice found a champion, he distinguished himself: he drank; his finances were a crime against responsibility; his charm and darkly handsome looks availed him of endless affairs.’ It was more than something of an achievement, then, that the general tenor of his essays was able to sustain such a high moral tone.”

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