8.1.2010 New York Times Digest

1. “The Allure of Messy Lives”

“Perhaps part of what is so appealing, so fascinating about Mad Men is the refusal of bourgeois ordinariness, the struggle against it, in all of its poetic and mundane and tragic forms.”

2. “Even Cheaper Knockoffs”

“In California, the authorities recently seized a shipment of counterfeit Angel Soft toilet paper.”

3. “Is Italy Too Italian?”

“‘You know, it is a hard world for poets.'”

4. “The Academic-Industrial Complex”

“‘Many years ago, academicians tended to be dreamers. We assumed somebody else would figure out where the money was going to come from. That notion is no longer the case.'”

5. “The Rich and Boring Need Not Apply”

Theselby.com is certainly not just any Web site. Introduced in 2008, it generates up to 35,000 unique daily visitors. Part online interior magazine, part who’s who of global hip, theselby.com is a window into the private realms of those Mr. Selby deems ‘cool.'”

6. “Up From Darkness”

“Who had light and who did not? What did different types of people do with their newfound hours? How did street lighting change public behavior? (Once drinkers could move safely between taverns, instead of perching on a single tavern stool all night … the streets became far rowdier; prostitutes previously confined to brothels could now sell their wares al fresco.) With increased mobility and safety, those who could afford lighting stayed up later. Sleeping in became a mark of prestige. Meanwhile, those who lived near the gasworks — never located in a city’s high-rent district — endured foul-smelling and dangerous emissions.”

7. “Drink What You Know”

“When you think about it, rules for drinking are not so different from rules for writing.”

8. “I Tweet, Therefore I Am”

“Back in the 1950s, the sociologist Erving Goffman famously argued that all of life is performance: we act out a role in every interaction, adapting it based on the nature of the relationship or context at hand. Twitter has extended that metaphor to include aspects of our experience that used to be considered off-set: eating pizza in bed, reading a book in the tub, thinking a thought anywhere, flossing. Effectively, it makes the greasepaint permanent, blurring the lines not only between public and private but also between the authentic and contrived self. If all the world was once a stage, it has now become a reality TV show: we mere players are not just aware of the camera; we mug for it.”

9. “Unnatural Science”

“Does everyone take for granted now that science sites are where graduate students, researchers, doctors and the ‘skeptical community’ go not to interpret data or review experiments but to chip off one-liners, promote their books and jeer at smokers, fat people and churchgoers?”

10. “Plus-Size Wars”

“With more weight comes more variation.”

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