4.11.2010 New York Times Digest

1. “The Godfather of the E-Reader”

“The codex has been the dominant text format since late antiquity, and the modern paperback — compact, portable, inexpensive, reasonably water-resistant — remains the most efficient reading machine ever invented. Still, the dream of a truly revolutionary reading device has been around since long before the Kindle or the iPad. And if you’re searching for a godfather of the reading machine, you might look past Jeff Bezos and Steve Jobs to a nearly forgotten early-20th-century writer and impresario named Bob Brown.”

2. “Tribes of Amazon Find an Ally Out of Avatar

“The dam is a ‘quintessential example of the type of thing we are showing in Avatar — the collision of a technological civilization’s vision for progress at the expense of the natural world and the cultures of the indigenous people that live there.'”

3. “Rethinking a Gospel of the Web”

“Those of us who have championed open platforms cannot ignore these facts.”

4. “Innovation, by Order of the Kremlin”

“A marquee name in the high-tech world, the Google co-founder Sergei Brin, immigrated to the United States from Russia with his parents when he was a child. Had Russia been a different place, perhaps Mr. Brin might have started Google there instead of in Silicon Valley.”

5. “Where a Cellphone Is Still Cutting Edge”

“More human beings today have access to a cellphone than the United Nations says have access to a clean toilet.”

6. “Southern Discomfort”

“Anyone who seeks an Edenic Southern past in which the war was principally about states’ rights and not slavery is searching in vain, for the Confederacy and slavery are inextricably and forever linked.”

7. “Madman, Perhaps; Survivor, Definitely”

“When he isn’t working, Dennis rises about 10 o’clock, reads Nietzsche (and modern plays) poolside at his Hollywood apartment, visits art galleries, browses in book shops and attends foreign films. He’s intense about everything he does.”

8. “Attitude, Yes, but Without a Song in Its Heart”

“Glee may love music, but often it abuses it, with performances wholly lacking grit. In each episode a handful of songs receive similar treatment: antiseptically elated, heavily doctored recordings, with no line between the truly affecting and the genuinely off-putting.”

9. “Behind Obama’s Cool”

“One of them taped a bull session of students discussing the nature of time. Obama can be heard saying that ‘time is just a collection of human experiences combined so that they make a long, flowing stream of thought’ — an observation strikingly like Augustine of Hippo’s definition of time as distentio animi, ‘the mind’s spanning action.’ That this was not just an idle comment by a young man is confirmed when we find Obama later describing his memoir to Remnick as an effort for ‘a young person to pull strands of himself together into a coherent whole.'”

10. “iPad Envy”

“If someone were to construct a pantheon of consumer-culture gods, it would have to include the early adopter as a heroic figure, idolized far and wide by marketers and business gurus and anybody carrying a business card that includes the word ‘trend.’ Seen as bold, discerning and forward-thinking, the early adopter is always living in the future, and shaping it.”

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