"At Harvard, they called it 'throwing the pearls to the swine,' " says Dr. Alan Kling. What's it called off-campus?
Send your answer by noon ET Wednesday to email@example.com.
Monday's Question (No. 368)--"Baby, It's Scold Outside":
On Sunday a distinguished visitor lambasted a gathering: "Please join the modern world. Why are you lagging behind? Why do you allow yourselves to be regarded as leaders without talent, leaders without a vision?" Who chided whom for what?
"As much as I admire Jimmy Carter, I think he was being a little hard on the Amish."—Andrew Staples
"Bill Gates taunted jury members for using 1-month-old PalmPilot models."—Francis Heaney
"I think Michael Jordan is beginning to get a bit frustrated with his new cohorts in the Washington Wizards front office."—Aaron Schatz
"Geoff Ward, goateed sophomore, chides each of the Canterbury Tales, for being written during that Great Vowel Thing and for being 'boring and stupid.' "—Laura Miller
"All right, so I lost my cool with those Hasid guys on Broadway who come right up to you and ask if you're Jewish. I don't see why you have to put it all over the Internet!"—Katha Pollitt
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To many participants, Steve Case is the apotheosis of modernity, reason enough to note that the salient feature of AOL Time Warner—aside from its ability to crush all before it like a mighty juggernaut—is its massive blandness. It's the family restaurant of media conglomerates. A clue to the popularity of such dullness can be found in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, the innovative merging of journalism and soft-core porn that put that magazine in the black and millions of frat boys into a swoon. Why, in an era of readily available pornography, does AOL thrive by blocking it and SI by selling it in so watered-down a form? Because it is undemanding. Passionate involvement with sex, politics, or dinner can be exhausting. Each intense encounter demands alertness, ingenuity, and a willingness to overturn old assumptions. Each challenges. On the other hand, McDonald's, Time, and SI swimsuits are essentially reassuring. Their appeal is their familiarity. They comfort the participant, reinforcing his preconceptions. That's the moneymaking way to appeal to the timid, the plump, and the contented—i.e., to those who enjoy the status quo. McDonald's, Time, and SI swimsuits: Each lulls. Like a warm glass of American cheese.
Averting an Even Bigger Catastrophe Answer
Nelson Mandela upbraided the leaders of Burundi's warring factions for bringing death and misery to their nation, shaming it before the world.
Mandela denounced their failure to stop the civil war that has killed 200,000 of the country's 6 million people since 1993. He was especially critical of their not having included the leaders of all armed rebel groups in their negotiations.
Burundi's conflict is a frightening echo of the Hutu's slaughter of at least 500,000 Tutsi in Rwanda, its northern neighbor. Recently the government of Burundi ordered 350,000 Hutu to leave their homes and move to 50 camps to deter them from aiding guerrilla fighters.
Cold Comfort Ongoing Extra
- "Helen Ross of Inverness, Scotland, is covered with frost after cross-country skiing in Stowe, Vt." (Associated Press/USA Today)
- "Passengers on the Staten Island ferry, left, were bundled up against the bitter cold yesterday. Frank Dedario, above, the mate on the ferryboat, the Gov. Herbert H. Lehman, said he was freezing." (New York Times)
- " 'The Sopranos,' America's greatest television series—no, make that the most magnificent example of dramatic writing in the history of the world—continues brilliant work despite current cold snap." (New York Times)
Above, actual "Winter Turns Cold; People Don Hats, Gloves" photo captions from various news sources (except the third one which I simply made up). Participants are invited to concoct similarly clichéd captions from photos that should run in any other news outlet during the current meteorological unpleasantness. Results to run Thursday, if my hands aren't too cold to type and my scarf doesn't become entangled in the keyboard, Isadora Duncan-style.
Modern guy Steve Case.