8.8.2010 New York Times Digest

1. “But Will It Make You Happy?”

“The latest round of research is, for lack of a better term, all about emotional efficiency: how to reap the most happiness for your dollar.”

2. “Little as They Try, Students Can’t Get a D Here”

“D’s are simply not useful in society.”

3. “Tony Judt, Chronicler of History, Is Dead at 62”

“Though they are often arbitrary, disciplinary boundaries certainly exist. Nevertheless, the historian has to learn to transcend them in order to write intelligently.”

4. “E-Book Wars: The Specialist vs. the Multitasker”

“It’s not surprising that a ‘purpose-built device’ does a better job at its one task.”

5. “Always Pushing Beyond the Envelope”

“Netflix … is already embracing technology shifts that will make those red envelopes a quaint memory.”

6. “When the Screen Goes Blank”

“The time we might free up by ditching TV is Shirky’s ‘cognitive surplus’ — an ocean of hours that society could contribute to endeavors far more useful and fun than television.”

7. “Sorrow in Her Voice”

“Even in the cheeriest songs, she sounded fragile.”

8. “Losing My Cool”

“In this memoir, Williams is transformed from a skinny teenager who shoots hoops, gets into bloody brawls and smacks his girlfriend, into a philosophy major and author.”

9. “What the Great Recession Has Done to Family Life”

“Our nostalgia for the Depression speaks volumes about how we feel not just about the past but also about our lives today. A craving for a simpler, slower, more centered life, one less consumed by the soul-emptying crush of getting and spending, runs deep within our culture right now.”

10. “Creative New Uses for Books”

“Even if books become unnecessary to imply a surplus of mind-leisure time, they are now functioning like catalog props in real life.”

11. “Amazon’s Prime Suspect”

“On the Web, often when we think we’re at our most savvy — conducting research, comparison shopping, deal getting — we’re engaged not in strategic critical thinking but in an infotainment ritual akin to watching commercial TV. At best, trying to beat the Web may make us spend a little more; at worst, it may deepen our involvement with a game that’s rigged against us.”

12. “The Music-Copyright Enforcers”

“Managers of adult clubs tend to be polite. People who run coffee shops tend to be difficult. Skating rinks are a pain – they have the longest outgoing messages in the world. Casinos owned by Indian tribes are tough. Every decision goes to the tribal council, and it can take forever. Arts and crafts festivals, forget it; creative types never have any money.”

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