7.31.2010 New York Times Digest

1. “A Paper Calendar? It’s 2011”

“So much of our social and professional lives are determined by the systems we use to keep track of them.”

2. “In Afghanistan, Rage at Young Lovers”

“Ms. Mohammedi’s uncle visited her in jail to say she had shamed the family, and promised that they would kill her once she was released.”

3. “Can Microsoft Make You ‘Bing’?”

“He explains that in the valley, with its job-hopping and start-up culture, there is a ‘renters’ mentality’: if things aren’t working out, just move on. At Microsoft, he says, there is a ‘homeowners’ mentality’: a dedication to making things work.”

4. “The Video Store, Reinvented by Necessity”

“The movement toward community-building goes beyond marketing. It is also tapping into a cultural impulse to connect with something, or someone, in a digital age.”

5. “What’s in a Face at 50?”

“The face actually can reveal more than we might want to admit.”

6. “The Dutch Way: Bicycles and Fresh Bread”

“But that points up another mental difference: the willingness of Europeans to follow top-down social planning. America’s famed individualism breeds an often healthy distrust of the elite. I’m as quick as any other red-blooded American to bristle at European technocrats telling me how to live. (Try buying a light bulb or a magazine after 6 p.m. in Amsterdam, where the political elite have decreed that workers’ well-being requires that shops be open only during standard office hours, precisely when most people can’t shop.) But while many Americans see their cars as an extension of their individual freedom, to some of us owning a car is a burden, and in a city a double burden. I find the recrafting of the city in order to lessen — or eliminate — the need for cars to be not just grudgingly acceptable, but, yes, an expansion of my individual freedom. So I say (in this case, at least): Go, social-planning technocrats! If only America’s cities could be so free.”

7. “When Shilling on the Web, Think Small”

“What difference does it make if you don’t craft a message with its medium in mind? A world of difference.”

8. “Babies to Heroes: A Field Guide to Big-Screen Men”

“The movies may be male dominated, but images of men are surprisingly narrow.”

9. “Apes From the Future, Holding a Mirror to Today”

“The beauty of Boulle’s amusing idea, and of the best science-fiction ideas in general, is that it encourages us to take a longer view than we’re accustomed to; maybe longer than we’re entirely comfortable with.”

10. “Like Seaside Heights, but With a Duomo”

“Tanning, nails, everything is different here.”

11. “The Jargon of the Novel, Computed”

“Has a vernacular style become the standard for the typical fiction writer? Or is literary language still a distinct and peculiar beast?”

12. “Sex, Lies and Data Mining”

“Their breakdown is simple. Men like pornography. Women like romance novels.”

13. “Know Thyself: Easier Said Than Done”

“When people today are asked whether they regularly dream in color, most say they do. But it was not always so. Back in the 1950s most said they dreamed in black and white. Presumably it can hardly be true that our grandparents had different brains that systematically left out the color we put in today. So this must be a matter of interpretation. Yet why such freedom about assigning color? Well, try this for an answer. Suppose that, not knowing quite what dreams are like, we tend to assume they must be like photographs or movies — pictures in the head. Then, when asked whether we dream in color we reach for the most readily available pictorial analogy. Understandably, 60 years ago this might have been black-and-white movies, while for most of us today it is the color version. But, here’s the thing: Neither analogy is necessarily the ‘right’ one. Dreams don’t have to be pictures of any kind at all. They could be simply thoughts — and thoughts, even thoughts about color, are neither colored nor non-colored in themselves.”

14. “A Mild-Mannered Maniac”

“He has taught at Harvard, adapted the last volume of Proust into a feature film, transformed several of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s tales into a dark, surrealist comedy starring Marcello Mastroianni and made the life of the Viennese painter Gustav Klimt into a fractured biopic starring John Malkovich.”

15. “The Prescription to Save Ailing Superheroes”

“A few years ago, the film-geek Web site Chud.com posted a hoax review of a lost masterpiece from Clint Eastwood and Sam Peckinpah: a stripped-down and brutal take on Batman that abandoned every aspect of the mythos except the vigilantism and the car. Only the fact that this movie never existed keeps it from being my favorite superhero film of all time.”


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