The latest chatter in cyberspace.
July 18 2005 5:24 PM


Today, bloggers rush to judgment on the new Harry Potter novel. They also weigh in on a domestic squabble between a journalist and her blog-happy nanny and continue to discuss the Valerie Plame scandal.

Pottermania!:J.K. Rowling's latest, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, sold an estimated 8.9 million copies within 24 hours of its release on Friday.

"Rarely has a piece of popular culture so perfectly reflected the situation of our larger society – and rarely has it done so with such a powerful message," praises Darren Cahr, an intellectual property lawyer, at Master of My Domain. * "While only a 'children's book,' Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince is, in many ways, a call to arms—Book 4's comment that we must all make the choice between 'what is right and what is easy' is truly brought to life here, with tragic consequences." Cahr, like many readers, senses an allegorical touch in the narrative of "a terror campaign that disrupts the lives of ordinary people and results in the deaths of innocents."


Gatorchick of FloridaBlues sees a concrete parallel at the beginning of the book, when the Prime Minister describes the president of a "distant country" as a "wretched man." Law professor Stephen Bainbridge examines the current affairs angle and wonders "whether J. K. Rowling is as anti-American as the evidence seems to suggest."

Others focus on the book's more fantastical elements. "The best comparison I can make…was that the first 5 Potter books were like the New Hope, while this book is Empire Strikes Back," assesses Warren Meyer at Coyote Blog. Journalist Darren Waters, live-blogging his weekend with Harry for the BBC, agrees. "In many ways this book has been a mere staging ground for Rowling's final narrative to come," he says. "But with just one book left in the series, does JK Rowling have anything left up her sleeves?"

Writing at A Small Victory, Michele Catalano thinks "the quality of writing has seriously diminished…[a]nd the Young Wizards in Love sublot is dreadful. Some of the passages read like Degrassi Junior High, with wands." At Blogcritics.org, Leoniceno disagrees. There are some stylistic shortcomings, he admits, "but in this novel [Rowling] shows that she has capacities that we had previously only glimpsed at." And on her Live Journal, Garland Graves has a very thorough speculative analysis for Potterphiles. *

Read more about Harry Potter.

Whither privacy?: "The New Nanny Diaries Are Online," declares the headline of a New York Times essay by Helaine Olen about firing her nanny over the contents of her personal blog. The nanny fought back on her blog: "I am not a pill popping alcoholic who has promiscuous sex and cares nothing for the children for whom she works with."

Plenty of bloggers say the saga highlights the employer's insecurities. "In the end, of course, Olen's essay really isn't about Tessa; it's about Olen," explains a liberal academic at Bitch. Ph.D. "She wanted her nanny to take care of her children, but it seems she also expected her nanny to take care of her—not only by waiting on her when she was sick, but by maintaining the necessary fictions of her self-image as a married woman and mother, the edifice of respectable domestic life." Steven Taylor, a political scientist writing at PoliBlog, points to the hypocrisy of Olen using the New York Times to attack someone for publishing a small-time blog.

Others think the nanny got what's coming to her for telling her employer about her diary. "[H]ere's the deal," says prolific news blogger Steve Gilliard, "if she had kept the blog to herself, there would have been no story. … She has every right to post on her life. … But what none of these comments deals with is the simple fact that the central mistake was that the blogger let the employer into her life."



Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Hong Kong’s Protesters Are Ridiculously Polite. That’s What Scares Beijing So Much.

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You: It Spreads Slowly

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

A Jaw-Dropping Political Ad Aimed at Young Women, Apparently

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:05 PM Today in GOP Outreach to Women: You Broads Like Wedding Dresses, Right?

How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

How Tattoo Parlors Became the Barber Shops of Hipster Neighborhoods

This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century

Oct. 1 2014 8:34 AM This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century To undertake a massively ambitious energy project, you don’t need the government anymore.
  News & Politics
Oct. 1 2014 7:26 PM Talking White Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.
Buy a Small Business
Oct. 1 2014 11:48 PM Inking the Deal Why tattoo parlors are a great small-business bet.
Oct. 1 2014 6:02 PM Facebook Relaxes Its “Real Name” Policy; Drag Queens Celebrate
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 9:39 PM Tom Cruise Dies Over and Over Again in This Edge of Tomorrow Supercut
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celeb Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”
  Health & Science
Oct. 1 2014 4:03 PM Does the Earth Really Have a “Hum”? Yes, but probably not the one you’re thinking.
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?