6.20.2010 New York Times Digest

1. “Yes, People Still Read, but Now It’s Social”

“Quiet contemplation has led to its fair share of important thoughts. But it cannot be denied that good ideas also emerge in networks.”

2. “Now, Dad Feels as Stressed as Mom”

“Fathers are now struggling just as much — and sometimes even more — than mothers in trying to fulfill their responsibilities at home and in the office.”

3. “A Night at the Electronics Factory”

“He places two plastic chips inside the drive’s casing, inserts a device that redirects light in the drive and then fastens four screws with an electric screwdriver before sending the drive down the line. He has exactly one minute to complete the multistep task.”

4. “The Half-Life of Phones”

“There is something feverish in the rush to adoption, something almost obsessive in the way our desires are driven by these objects. The question is rarely ever, do I need a new phone? It is almost always, do I want one?”

5. “Reflections in the Facebook Mirror”

“How many times in life must we engage in self-description?”

6. “Affordable Boutique Hotels in New York City”

“Rooftop bars, rainfall showers and iPhone docks were everywhere.”

7. “Do I Contradict Myself?”

“Our protagonist is a bit of a disembodied brain, highly capable of poignancy but not exactly introspection or, as is welcome in memoirs, overwhelming indiscretion.”

8. “Inside the Box”

“Bissell was born in 1974, which puts him on the cusp of gaming’s generational divide. That transitional position affords him a perspective not unlike — if you’ll indulge the grandiose analogy — that of Tocqueville or McLuhan, figures who stood on the bridges of two great ages, welcoming the horizon while also mourning what the world was leaving behind. Bissell sees video games with open eyes. His book is about the profoundly ambivalent experience of playing them — close readings (close playings?) mostly of big-budget action and science fiction titles for consoles like the Xbox and PlayStation. These are the games most likely to draw a disparaging remark from a United States senator or a newspaper film critic. Extra Lives is a celebration of why they matter, but it is also a jeremiad about ‘why they do not matter more.'”

9. “Surfin’ Safari”

“During the Persian Gulf war, surfers used to say, ‘If only Saddam surfed!’ The ‘civilizing mission’ of the American military has ended up planting surf boards on beaches around the globe just as the British left cricket bats behind. According to Robert Duvall in Apocalypse Now, ‘Charlie don’t surf.'”

10. “How Old Can a ‘Young Writer’ Be?”

“The emphasis on futurity misses an essential truth about fiction writers: They often compose their best and most lasting work when they are young.”

11. “Dysregulation Nation”

“In the late 1970s, the historian Christopher Lasch famously described America as a culture of narcissism. Today we might well be called a nation of dysregulation. The signs that something is amiss in our inner mechanisms of control and restraint are everywhere.”

12. “The Real Marshall Mathers”

“I think if two people love each other, then what the hell? I think that everyone should have the chance to be equally miserable, if they want.”

13. “What Is I.B.M.’s Watson?”

“By the end of the day, the seven human contestants were impressed, and even slightly unnerved, by Watson. Several made references to Skynet, the computer system in the Terminator movies that achieves consciousness and decides humanity should be destroyed.”

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