Did Kurtz himself write the paragraph about "the newspaper's conflict-of-interest rules"? If so, wasn't that itself ... you know, a conflict of interest? ... P.P.S.: Nah. After all, it's not as if whoever wrote the graf in question described the ethics rules narrowly, as if they apply only to "a sportswriter" but not to any other kind of reporter! Oh, wait. ... 1:24 A.M. link
Anti-Brokebacklashlash: Nikki Finke claims it's not red state moviegoers who are avoiding Brokeback Mountain because they're "disgusted" by "the possibility of glimpsing simulated gay sex." It's the members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences--even "baby boomers and younger Academy members." I'm skeptical, as one should always be regarding a Nikki Finke article. Surely some Academy members are viscerally averse to watching gay sex. (They have genes too.) But Finke's three-alarm charge of hypocrisy smells like a brilliant move to counter the mild anti-Brokeback backlash evident at the recent SAG awards. ... P.S.: You knew there would be an anti-homophobic guilt trip somewhere in this process. I didn't realize it would be directed at Hollywood liberals rather than moviegoers. But it makes sense--as Finke notes, guilt-trips work on them. ... P.P.S.: Many commenters have noticed the obvious--the Best Picture nominees are four left-messaged political films, plus a movie about Truman Capote! But if you read Finke's column, you realize it's really not that bad. It's worse! If she's even 50% on the mark, the Academy Awards are now hopelessly, pervasively, and openly politicized (and the politics are Hollywood Left). Maybe they should be carried on Daily Kos. ...
Nominee for Best Euphemistic Attempt to Hide That the Five Nominated "Small Films With Deep Political and Social Themes" Were Actuallly Small Films With Liberal Political and Social Themes: Sharon Waxman of the New York Times, who also writes:
Many nominees observed that Oscar voters seemed to be in a ruminative mood, perhaps reflecting the nation at large.
Or perhaps not! 9:23 A.M. link
Lutz's Revenge? Is Dan Neil overextended? Since he won the Pulitzer Prize for his auto reviews he's added a magazine column and radio commentaries on a local NPR station. But his formerly funny auto reviews have become a disappointing parade of Hearty Hackisms ("... ladies and gentlemen, what we have here is the Buick from another planet") and strained laugh lines ("Americans who might otherwise think [hybrids are] all a plot reeking of patchouli and macrobiotic ice cream."). Neil's heart's not in it anymore. Let him move on. ... 8:47 A.M. (early!)
Mission of Burma? One of the tiny little suprises in last night's so-so SOTU was Bush's inclusion of Burma--along with North Korea, Iran, Syria, and Zimbabwe--on the list of non-democratic nations whose freedom is required for the "peace of this world." For some background, here is a recent report, commissioned and seemingly endorsed by Vaclav Havel and Desmond Tutu [pdf], calling the current dictatorial Burmese government a "threat to the peace." The report apparently seeks to establish the prerequisites for possible U.N. Security Council actions, including "the authorization of a U.N. peacekeeping force to enter the territory." ... 4:46 P.M.
To Democrats desperately searching for an alternative to Hillary: What's wrong with Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania? Assuming he wins reelection, he's governor of a large swing state. He's sensible, plain-spoken and candid--the Democrats' McCain. (It takes one to beat one.) Is there something impolitic (or worse) in his background that causes him to be Unmentioned? If so, please clue me in. ... 2:43 P.M.
Why did the traditionally uninspiring State of the Union address become such a big deal? I blame the Feiler Faster principle [v]: Our society's ability to quickly and comfortably process information has become so great that we get bored without new masses of information to run through the machine. So, in the non-political culture, nice, second-order holidays like Valentine's Day and Halloween get built up into huge events requiring hours of hype and effort. Similarly, SOTU gets built up into another momentous make-or break occasion ... P.S.: Conversely, any day that doesn't feature either a make-or-break moment, major terrorist attack, near-apocalyptic natural disaster or celebrity murder becomes a "slow news day." Hillary Clinton's January 16 "plantation" comments generated controversy, we were told, because she foolishly made them "on a boring day" (Chris Matthews)-- a boring day on which there was a) an ongoing, bloody war in Iraq, b) a terror bombing in Afghanistan, c) mystery as to which Al Qaeda leaders, if any, we'd killed in a controversial Predator missile attack; d) unrest in Nepal, e) final campaigning in the Palestinian election, f) Israel's prime minister in a coma, g) a confrontation with Iran over the bomb, h) spreading bird flu and i) ongoing scandals over eavesdropping and sleazy lobbying. ... Boring days aren't what they used to be! 1:08 P.M.
TODAY IN SLATE
The Irritating Confidante
John Dickerson on Ben Bradlee’s fascinating relationship with John F. Kennedy.
My Father Invented Social Networking at a Girls’ Reform School in the 1930s
Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real
Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band
Can it be again?
The All The President’s Men Scene That Captured Ben Bradlee
Is It Better to Be a Hero Like Batman?
Or an altruist like Bruce Wayne?
Driving in Circles
The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.