6.13.2010 New York Times Digest

1. “The Ahab Parallax”

“One of the great underlying themes of Moby-Dick, Mr. Delbanco observed, ‘is that people ashore don’t want to know about the ugly things that go on at sea.'”

2. “Long Road to Adulthood Is Growing Even Longer”

“People between 20 and 34 are taking longer to finish their educations, establish themselves in careers, marry, have children and become financially independent.”

3. “Merely Human? That’s So Yesterday”

“Some of Silicon Valley’s smartest and wealthiest people have embraced the Singularity.”

4. “The High Cost of Loving Your Phone”

“Some people may complain incessantly about their iPhone and AT&T’s service for it, but not that many are switching. And that’s just the way the companies have intended it.”

5. “The Glee Generation”

“We’re raising a generation of Broadway babies.”

6. “Lady Gaga Doesn’t Preach, Exactly”

“I like that she not only appreciates hats but understands the boundaries a hat and veil impose on other people.”

7. “The New Face of Hip-Hop”

“Biracial Jewish-Canadian former child actors don’t have a track record of success in the American rap industry.”

8. “Blockbuster 4: The Same, but Worse”

“Their persistence back there in the shadowy realms of collective memory testifies not only to the vexing ontological riddle that is Steve Guttenberg, but also — at least as profoundly — to a notable aspect of our deep human craving for narrative.”

9. “The Vanishing Mercury Class”

“It was basically a plain Ford, of course, but a little different, a little classier. Choosing a Mercury was a statement of measured individuality.”

10. “John Waters Looks Back”

“If H. L. Mencken was the Sage of Baltimore, Waters is, at least, the parsley. Just for fun, consider what these two share: impudence, contrariness, uproarious insults to bourgeois values that made them controversial, then fashionable, then had them prematurely posing for their native-son statues. That they’d have horrified each other is just your usual Balmer lagniappe.”

11. “My Backlogged Pages”

“Tired of buying bookshelves and anxious about the economic downturn, my wife recently instituted the First Law of Literary Thermodynamics, otherwise known as the conservation of libraries. No book can come into our household without another book leaving it. I am loath to give up any books. So I’ve been dipping more and more into my unread stock, which still numbers in the hundreds.”

12. “America’s Next Top Kill”

“I think the reason is that when the oil companies are in charge of bringing the solutions to the table, they are going to advocate solutions that allow them to continue recovering the oil.”

13. “Lifelong Earning”

“The nagging sense of needing to acquire new skills, all the time, is palpable. That anxiety dovetails with a self-improvement ethos that fills whole sections of bookstores, cross-matched with the various ways technology prods us to tabulate parodic amounts of personal-behavior data.”

14. “Pop-Up Stars”

“Many great American characters of the second half of the 20th century, from Holly Golightly to Jerry Maguire, are ‘real phonies’ …. What the real phony wants in his heart of hearts is to be like everyone else; his playing of parts, therefore, does not entail repressing another identity. Rather, it’s the expression of his deepest desires.”

15. “The Animal-Cruelty Syndrome”

“In his famous series of 1751 engravings, ‘The Four Stages of Cruelty,’ William Hogarth traced the life path of the fictional Tom Nero: Stage 1 depicts Tom as a boy, torturing a dog; Stage 4 shows Tom’s body, fresh from the gallows where he was hanged for murder, being dissected in an anatomical theater.”

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