7.12.2009 New York Times Digest

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1. “Love, Virtually”

“The connection to communications technology — the connection to connection — has become part of what makes us human.”

2. “Google’s Chrome OS: Reaching for the Cloud”

“What if a computer were nothing more than an Internet browser — a digital window pane onto the Web?”

3. “For Honda in America, 50 Years of Going Its Own Direction”

“Starting with a storefront on Pico Boulevard in Los Angeles, American Honda Motor Company came to this country with small motorcycles that seemed ill suited to prevailing tastes. After all, most of the available bikes were Harley-Davidsons or British-built Triumphs and Nortons, with a dribble of Moto Guzzis and Ducatis from Italy.”

4. “How to Start a Company (and Kiss Like Angelina)”

“Sometimes — and this is a difficult sentence for a newspaper to print — it’s easier to learn from a video.”

5. “When the Price Is Right, the Future Can Wait”

“Mitch Lowe, the president of Redbox, said his company’s service drew predominantly from lower-income households with large families — the opposite of the profile of the typical customer at Netflix … At Redbox, Paul Blart: Mall Cop, featuring physical comedy and no end of fat jokes, is its record-holding rental title. ‘Probably not what you’d find at Netflix,’ Mr. Lowe said. (He was right: Crash is Netflix’s top rental; Paul Blart doesn’t appear anywhere in its Top 100.)”

6. “The Invisible Hand, Trumped by Darwin?”

“Smith’s basic idea was that business owners seeking to lure customers away from rivals have powerful incentives to introduce improved product designs and cost-saving innovations. These moves bolster innovators’ profits in the short term. But rivals respond by adopting the same innovations, and the resulting competition gradually drives down prices and profits. In the end, Smith argued, consumers reap all the gains. The central theme of Darwin’s narrative was that competition favors traits and behavior according to how they affect the success of individuals, not species or other groups.”

7. “A Fun-Loving Sponge Who Keeps Things Clean”

“There have been books, dissertations and seminars dedicated to the study of the fun-loving yellow kitchen sponge who lives in a pineapple under the sea. There was a theatrical-release movie version. President Obama said during the campaign that SpongeBob was his favorite television character, and that he rarely misses the show because he can’t; it is always on in the Obama household. David Bowie and Johnny Depp are among the many stars who boast or blog about having been guest stars.”

8. “A Survivor of Film Criticism’s Heroic Age”

“He introduced to Americans and argued for the French auteur theory, which holds that a great director speaks through his films no less than a novelist speaks through his books. A brilliant actor might transcend a mediocre film, but only a director can offer the sustained coherence and sensibility that yields great art. And he argued that Hollywood had produced auteurs, championing the distinctive voices of Orson Welles, John Ford and Sam Fuller, not to mention younger Turks.”

9. “What You Pay For”

“The marginal cost of digital products, or the cost of delivering one additional copy, is approaching zero. The fixed cost of producing the first copy, however, may be as high as ever.”

10. “Where Am I?”

“We’ve become hopelessly disconnected from our setting, burdened with a brain that needs a GPS satellite just to get across town.”

11. “Roll Over, John Lennon”

“While Wald never says in so many words that the Beatles destroyed rock ‘n’ roll, he does take a stance several degrees removed from standard-issue Beatles worship. He suggests that their ambitious later work, widely hailed as a step forward for rock, instead helped turn it from a triumphantly mongrel dance music that smashed racial barriers into a rhythmically inert art music made mostly by and for white people.”

12. “This Year’s Model”

“In May, Matheiken, who these days is the creative director for a Web-design company in New York, started the Uniform Project, which involves wearing the same dress every day for a year, and seeing just how aesthetically creative she could be despite that limitation.”

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