3.14.2010 New York Times Digest

1. “A Word About the Wise”

“Greek philosophers spent a lot of time worrying about the recipe for the good life, the one that an ideally wise man would pursue, deciding variously that it was a life of intellectual contemplation (Aristotle) or virtue (the Stoics) or tranquil pleasure (Epicurus). By the modern era, however, philosophers had largely abandoned such inquiries. Hall seems unaware of this. ‘Wisdom has never ceased to be a formal and central concern of philosophy,’ he writes. But it has in fact ceased to be a concern. And don’t take my word for it, take that of the Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, which notes that ‘wisdom has come to vanish almost entirely from the philosophical map.'”

2. “In Hard Times, Lured Into Trade School and Debt”

“For-profit trade schools have long drawn accusations that they overpromise and underdeliver, but the woeful economy has added to the industry’s opportunities along with the risks to students, according to education experts. They say these schools have exploited the recession as a lucrative recruiting device while tapping a larger pool of federal student aid.”

3. “Mark Twain, Baseball Fan, Had an Eye for a Short-Stop”

“At the great base ball match on Tuesday, while I was engaged in hurrahing, a small boy walked off with an English-made brown silk UMBRELLA belonging to me, and forgot to bring it back. I will pay $5 for the return of that umbrella in good condition to my home on Farmington avenue. I do not want the boy (in an active state) but will pay two hundred dollars for his remains.”

4. “The Author of Red Badge Loved the Game More Than His Studies”

“I did little work in school, but confined my abilities, such as they were, to the diamond. Not that I disliked books, but the cut-and-dried curriculum of the college did not appeal to me.”

5. “Tea-ing Up the Constitution”

“The Supreme Court should have no more monopoly on the meaning of the Constitution than the pope has on the meaning of the Bible.”

6. “Apple’s Spat With Google Is Getting Personal”

“At the heart of their dispute is a sense of betrayal: Mr. Jobs believes that Google violated the alliance between the companies by producing cellphones that physically, technologically and spiritually resembled the iPhone. In short, he feels that his former friends at Google picked his pocket.”

7. “How Oscar Found Ms. Right”

“One of the strange truths of American cinema is that women thrived in the silent era — Mary Pickford was one of the first stars and helped start a studio, United Artists — but soon after the movies started to talk in the late 1920s, women’s voices started to fade, at least behind the scenes. Hollywood might have been partly built on the hard work and beauty of its female stars, but it was the rare female director, Dorothy Arzner starting in the 1920s, Ida Lupino beginning in the 1940s, who managed to have her say behind the camera. It hasn’t gotten better.”

8. “Mortification Man”

“At first glance Greenberg seems like a departure for Mr. Stiller. But it doesn’t take long to realize that Roger is the most extreme and most finely honed variation yet on Mr. Stiller’s patented character type: the aggrieved, put-upon man-child.”

9. “The Girls Who Kicked in Rock’s Door”

“Though they were talented musicians who helped write their songs and were ferocious live, they were often written off as a slutty, manufactured novelty act by the dude-dominated ’70s rock press and heckled by male musicians, even those they appeared with. (Creem magazine infamously dismissed them with three unprintable words.)”

10. “The Fiction of Memory”

“Reality is a landscape that includes unreal features; being true to reality involves a certain amount of wavering between real and unreal. Likewise originality, if there can ever be any such thing, will inevitably entail a quantity of borrowing, conscious and otherwise. The paradoxes pile up as thick as the debris of history — unsurprisingly, since that debris is our reality.”

11. “Take This Job and Write It”

“Enough with the cozy stay-at-home dramas and urban picaresques featuring young slackers with no identifiable paycheck!”

12. “The Prof Stuff”

“But like many online experiments, Rate My Professors has turned out to be a companion to nothing. It is its own world.”

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