5.9.2010 New York Times Digest

1. “The Demise of Datebooks”

“Carrying a Filofax, with all the inserts that came standard with it, made me feel substantial, cliquish and secretive. British. Like a person who keeps close at hand many bankers’ private lines and Mandarin phrases and measurements for handmade shoes. The apparatus of the Filofax circumscribed and elevated my identity. It also liberated my imagination by allowing for such elegant expression of it; various sketches and coded notes-to-self, in blue ink, pervade the pages of the 2007 book. When I had time on a train or at Starbucks, I used to make lists, often plans for self-improvement. Google Calendar, the online scheduling tool that I turned to after iCal, does none of this for me.”

2. “Tell-All Generation Learns to Keep Things Offline”

“Companies like Facebook have a financial incentive to get friends to share as much as possible. That’s because the more personal the information that Facebook collects, the more valuable the site is to advertisers, who can mine it to serve up more targeted ads.”

3. “Gen X Has a Midlife Crisis”

“How can a generation whose cultural trademark is a refusal to grow up have a midlife crisis?”

4. “From Sarah Silverman, an Adorable Look, Followed by a Sucker Punch”

“There is a tradition of beautiful women in comedy desexualizing themselves. Lucille Ball was a showgirl before becoming a comedian, but we don’t think of her as a great beauty; Phyllis Diller was actually a very attractive woman who donned the fright wigs and feathers to appear less threatening.”

5. “That Nagging Question of Mutual Fund Fees”

“Studies have shown that fund expenses predict performance better than any other indicator — low fees are generally linked to high returns — so fees have a direct bearing on the financial well-being of millions of people.”

6. “Applause, Please, for Early Adopters”

“People who stand in lines for the latest product may be buying it for what it conveys about them to others.”

7. “The Jewish Question: Martin Heidegger”

“The philosopher … was a committed National Socialist for many years, an admirer of Hitler who purged Jewish colleagues, presided over a book-burning … and — unlike genuine dissidents — continued to teach, publish and travel throughout the Nazi period.”

8. “Nietzsche: A Philosophy in Context”

“Whether we acknowledge it or not, we continue to live within the intellectual shadow cast by Nietzsche. Postmodernism, deconstructionism, cultural relativism, the ‘free spirit’ scorning bourgeois morality, even New Age festivals like Burning Man can all ultimately be traced to him.”


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