4.4.2010 New York Times Digest

1. “How Green Is My iPad?”

“Which is more environmentally friendly: an e-reader or an old-fashioned book?”

2. “Rejoice, Muffy and Biff: A Preppy Primer Revisited”

“The original volume, a slim, plaid-covered paperback that poked fun at the gin-soaked polo-shirt and loafer-wearing set, started out as a piquant bit of mockery but, like Liar’s Poker, a bestseller about bond traders, and Wall Street, the movie in which Michael Douglas declared greed to be good, it ended up being adopted as a kind of guidebook for those who wanted in.”

3. “Factory Food”

“No country has embraced the movement toward commercialized, prepackaged food as much as the United States.”

4. “Coming to Terms With My Sabbatical”

“Even on sabbatical, I find myself putting in 50-hour workweeks.”

5. “A Critic’s Place, Thumb and All”

“Criticism is a habit of mind, a discipline of writing, a way of life — a commitment to the independent, open-ended exploration of works of art in relation to one another and the world around them. As such, it is always apt to be misunderstood, undervalued and at odds with itself. Artists will complain, fans will tune out, but the arguments will never end.”

6. “Tech and Text: The Digital Recession”

“While fixating on the pseudoworlds of cyberspace, the real world runs amok right before our glazed and unseeing eyes.”

7. “A Bold Vision, Still Ahead of Its Time”

“Adapted from Simulacron-3, a 1964 novel by Daniel F. Galouye, World on a Wire revolves around a cybernetics corporation that has created a miniature world populated with ‘identity units’ unaware that they are being controlled from above. Toggling between dimensions, a researcher (Klaus Lowitsch) learns that what he has always known as the real world may itself be a simulation.”

8. “The Familiar Comforts of Conspiracies”

“All are in some ways crude and heavy-handed, their formulations absurd, even outrageous. But they mean to be. How else to jolt us out of our complacent understanding of the world we think we know?”

9. “Motels Boost the Thread Count”

“Platform beds with crisp white sheets and taupe coverlets; 32-inch flat-screen TVs; bright colors on the walls and mod furnishings that maximize space. No, it’s not the latest boutique hotel. It’s the new look of Motel 6.”

10. “Dance Dance Revolution”

“The ’70s ‘lumberjack masculinity’ fooled a country that was still naïve about homosexuality. Many of disco’s gayest anthems — Abba’s ‘Dancing Queen,’ Diana Ross’s ‘I’m Coming Out’ — were coded enough to become huge hits. Echols amusingly charts the rise of the Village People, six men dressed as gay fantasy figures (including a cop, a cowboy and a biker). A mass public seemed to view them as the ultimate in hetero butchness; their international smash, ‘Y.M.C.A.,’ became a staple at wedding receptions.”

11. “Norris Church Mailer: The Last Wife”

“‘Let’s face it, I was attractive,’ she said. ‘That’s a large part of where I got to. “Would you be with him if he wasn’t Norman Mailer?” No. Would he be with me if I weighed 300 pounds? No. I used to have this conscious thought when I was younger and going to all these dinners and parties that one day I’ll just be able to stay at home and write and read and do what I want to do. It was a real conscious thought that when my looks leave, I can do other things. Isn’t that funny?'”

12. “Can Animals Be Gay?”

“Various forms of same-sex sexual activity have been recorded in more than 450 different species of animals by now, from flamingos to bison to beetles to guppies to warthogs. A female koala might force another female against a tree and mount her, while throwing back her head and releasing what one scientist described as ‘exhalated belchlike sounds.’ Male Amazon River dolphins have been known to penetrate each other in the blowhole.”

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