3.7.2010 New York Times Digest

1. “Shelf Life”

“I want to rhapsodize, as Benjamin does, when he remembers the tactics he employed to acquire the book Fragmente aus dem Nachlass eines jungen Physikers (Johann Wilhelm Ritter, 1810) after a Berlin auction. But the only memory I have of purchasing The Happiness Project is no memory at all. I’ll have to search my e-mail to see when I clicked ‘Start reading The Happiness Project on your Kindle in under a minute’ on Amazon.”

2. “Defectors Say Church of Scientology Hides Abuse”

“Scientology is an esoteric religion in which the faith is revealed gradually to those who invest their time and money to master Mr. Hubbard’s teachings. Scientologists believe that human beings are impeded by negative memories from past lives, and that by applying Mr. Hubbard’s ‘technology,’ they can reach a state known as clear. They may spend hundreds of hours in one-on-one ‘auditing’ sessions, holding the slim silver-colored handles of an e-meter while an auditor asks them questions and takes notes on what they say and on the e-meter’s readings. By doing enough auditing, taking courses and studying Mr. Hubbard’s books and lectures — for which some Scientologists say they have paid as much as $1 million — Scientologists believe that they can proceed up the ‘bridge to total freedom’ and live to their full abilities as Operating Thetans, pure spirits. They do believe in God, or a Supreme Being that is associated with infinite potential.”

3. “Grand Illusions”

“Steve Cohen does not have the marquee name of a David Copperfield, David Blaine or Penn & Teller. What he does have, at 39, is Chamber Magic, five shows a weekend at the plush suite in the Waldorf-Astoria where Crown Prince Sultan of Saudi Arabia stays when in town. The audience is capped at about 50 people, who pay $75 each ($100 for the front row). They are expected to dress well.”

4. “Straightening the Record”

“She cared nothing for baseball, only the scholarship — and the growing stature of her husband, 17 years her senior.”

5. “G.M. and Ford Channel Toyota to Beat Toyota”

“For American makers, the emphasis was on introducing new features — tilt steering! cup holders! — and new product categories to their fleets. Toyota made models that were dull by comparison and then spent years furiously refining them. Its cars just ran and ran. American companies were thinking quarter to quarter; Toyota took the long view and turned customers into lifelong fans.”

6. “Getting Older Without Getting Old”

“Economists use the term network effects to refer to the way the value of a product or service increases in tandem with the number of people who use it. If you’re one of only 10 people in the world with an e-mail account, its usefulness is limited; add a billion more, and the practical value of yours increases apace.”

7. “Library Science”

“Dead librarians are more interesting than any other type of dead person.”

8. “House of Style”

“Some days peanuts; some days shell.”

9. “Building a Better Teacher”

“It was the tiniest decision, but what was teaching if not a series of bite-size moves just like that?”

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