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53 Cards in this Set
German Cardinal Elected New Pope. CNN News. 20 April 2005. 27 April 2005. <www.cnn.com>.
He will give Mass in the Sistine Chapel at 9 a.m. (3 a.m. ET) Wednesday, Navarro-Valls said.
German Cardinal Elected New Pope. CNN News. 20 April 2005. 27 April 2005. <www.cnn.com>.
"It seems that he is too conservative. Hopefully the Holy Spirit can help him change," Jurandir Arauj of the National Conference of Bishops Afro-Brazilian Section told Reuters.
Donaldson, Catherine. Cardinals Select Ratzinger as New Pope. Fox News. 19 April 2005. 27 April 2005. <www.foxnews.com>.
Observers said the new pope's age was a factor among cardinals who favored a "transitional" pontiff who could skillfully lead the church as it absorbs John Paul II's legacy, rather than a younger cardinal who could wind up with another long pontificate.
Hagrety,Barbara. Pope Benedict Warns Against Moral Relativism. NPR. 25 April 2005. 27 April 2005. <www.npr.org>.
The new leader of the Roman Catholic Church has denounced moral relativism, the idea that moral principles have no objective standards. Pope Benedict XVI has characterized it as the major evil facing the church. Some observers believe he is taking a stance in the tense cultural wars in the United States.
U.S. Courts. 28 April 2005. <http://www.uscourts.gov/faq.html>.
Q: Who appoints federal judges?
Supreme Court justices, court of appeals judges, and district court judges are nominated by the President and confirmed by the United States Senate, as stated in the Constitution. The names of potential nominees often are recommended by senators or sometimes members of the House who are of the President's political party. The Senate Judiciary Committee typically conducts confirmation hearings for each nominee. Article III of the Constitution states that these judicial officers are appointed for a life term. The federal Judiciary, the Judicial Conference of the United States, and the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts play no role in the nomination and confirmation process.
Commission Recommends Reforms for Appointment of Judges. The Third Branch. June 1996. 2 May 2005. <www.uscourts.gov>.
Senators should identify candidates before the vacancy to be filled occurs, and those candidates should be vetted promptly, either before the vacancy occurs or within 30 days thereafter. In no event should a senator's recommendation of candidates go to the Administration later than 90 days after the creation of a judicial vacancy.
Senators should recommend two or more names, in order of priority, for each vacancy in order to avoid delays in the event that a potential nominee becomes unavailable or undesirable. If a senator does not respond to the request for more than one name, then the Administration should advise the senator of additional persons whom the Administration would like to consider.
Officials in the executive branch concerned with the selection of judicial nominees should develop and maintain lists of prospective judicial nominees for district and appeals courts. If senators have not made their recommendations within 90 days of the creation of a district court vacancy, the president should proceed with the Administration's own nominee and, if confirmation is delayed, make a recess appointment.
The White House, DOJ, FBI, and ABA should complete their investigations of potential judicial candidates within 90 days of candidates being proposed by the senators.
The ABA Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary should provide the Administration and the Senate Judiciary Committee with a brief statement of the reasons for its rating. The ABA also should expand the size of its committee and have more than one representative from each circuit.
Commission Recommends Reforms for Appointment of Judges. The Third Branch. June 1996. 2 May 2005. <www.uscourts.gov>.
The White House and the DOJ should consider reducing the breadth and extent of questions posed to judicial candidates, to duplicative inquiries, and to whether personal interviews are really needed.
The Senate Judiciary Committee should increase the number of its staff attorneys charged with investigating judicial nominees. When there are an unusually large number of nominations pending, the DOJ should continue its present practice of lending personnel to the Senate Judiciary Committee for the purpose of expediting its investigations.
If a judicial nominee is noncontroversial, the Senate Judiciary Committee should forgo holding a confirmation hearing. Nominees should be cleared for full Senate confirmation within two months of the receipt of the nomination.
Prospective nominees for judicial office should be required to complete a single questionnaire, which supplies all information sought by the various agencies and committees. These entities should explore whether it is necessary or appropriate to obtain all the information presently sought in questionnaires.
Congress should enact a statute providing that an additional judgeship is created on the date an incumbent judge becomes eligible for senior status, if the incumbent judge does not take senior status on that date. The number of authorized judgeships would be reduced by one when the incumbent takes senior status, retires, or dies, if the newly created position has been filled.
The Battle Over Federal Judges - Q & A. 27 January 2005. 2 May 2005. <www.family.org>.
Our Constitution grants the authority for appointing federal judges to the president, but also gives the Senate the duty to "advise and consent" to the appointment, as a check on the president's power. First, the president nominates a qualified person for a judicial opening. Next, the Senate Judiciary Committee holds hearings on each nominee and then, if approved by a majority vote of the committee, the nomination goes to the full Senate.
www.dictionary.com. 2 May 2005. <www.dictionary.com>.
The use of obstructionist tactics, especially prolonged speechmaking, for the purpose of delaying legislative action.
An instance of the use of this delaying tactic.
An adventurer who engages in a private military action in a foreign country.
Lawmakers at impasse over use of filibusters. The Seattle Times. 27 April 2005. 2 May 2005. <www.wnyc.org>.
WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans yesterday rebuffed a Democratic overture aimed at ending a confrontation over federal judges, saying that any agreement must include a pledge not to filibuster future nominees — especially Supreme Court nominees.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., had offered to end three of seven Democratic filibusters of President Bush's appellate-court nominees if Republicans would pledge not to change Senate rules to end the use of the parliamentary tactic to stall judicial votes.
But Republicans said they were less concerned about current nominees than they were about future ones, especially an anticipated Supreme Court vacancy this summer.
"Don't just focus on the past," Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., said. "All judicial and Supreme Court nominees deserve a fair up-or-down vote."
Democrats said they would accept no agreement that restricted use of the filibuster, leaving the two sides at an impasse.
Bush offers ex-bases for new oil refineries
Frist: Don't Leave Nominees 'Hanging'. 25 April 2005. 2 May 2005. <www.abcnews.go.com>.
WASHINGTON — Majority Leader Bill Frist said Sunday it was not "radical" to ask senators to vote on judicial nominees as he hardened his effort to strip Democrats of their power to stall President Bush's picks for the federal court.
Frist, speaking at an event organized by Christian groups trying to rally churchgoers to support an end to judicial filibusters, also said judges deserve "respect, not retaliation," no matter how they rule.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn, addresses a crowd via teleconferencing at an evangelical Christian rally called 'Justice Sunday,' Sunday, April 24, 2005 in Louisville, Ky., in an effort to rally churchgoers to protest the filibuster tactic used by Democrats to stall President Bush's picks for the federal court. (AP Photo/Patti Longmire)
Listen Now: Frist says judicial nominees are entitled to an up-or-down vote in the Senate. (requires Real Player)
A potential candidate for the White House in 2008, the Tennessee Republican made no overt mention of religion in the brief address, according to his videotaped remarks played on giant television screens to an audience estimated at 1,700 in Louisville, Ky.
Instead, Frist seemed intent on steering clear of the views expressed by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, and other conservatives in and out of Congress who have urged investigations and even possible impeachment of judges they describe as activists.
"Our judiciary must be independent, impartial and fair," said Frist, who was not present at the event.
"When we think judicial decisions are outside mainstream American values, we will say so. But we must also be clear that the balance of power among all three branches requires respect — not retaliation. I won't go along with that," Frist said.
For months, Frist has threatened to take action that would shut down the Democrats' practice of subjecting a small number of judicial appointees to filibusters. Barring a last-minute compromise, a showdown is expected this spring or summer.
"I don't think it's radical to ask senators to vote. I don't think it's radical to expect senators to fulfill their constitutional responsibilities," said Frist, whom Democrats have accused of engaging in "radical Republican" politics.
"Either confirm the nominees or reject them," Frist said. "Don't leave them hanging."
While a majority of the Senate is sufficient to confirm a judge, it takes 60 votes under Senate rules to overcome a filibuster and force a final vote.
Rather than change the rules directly, Frist and other Republicans have threatened to seek an internal Senate ruling that would declare that filibusters are not permitted against judicial nominees.
Because such a ruling can be enforced by majority vote, and Republicans have 55 seats in the 100-member Senate, GOP leaders have said they expect to prevail if they put the issue to the test.
Democrats blocked 10 appointments in Bush's first term. The president has renominated seven of the 10 since he won re-election, and Democrats have threatened to filibuster them again.
Among the speakers Sunday was Charles Pickering of Mississippi, one of the judges blocked from a permanent promotion to an appeals court. He called the filibuster tactic unconstitutional and said it should be ended permanently if used again.
Pickering's bruising battle for a seat on a federal appeals court abruptly ended when Bush, in a temporary recess appointment that did not require Senate approval, elevated him last year to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.
Democrats threatened a filibuster of Pickering's nomination, accusing him of supporting segregation as a young man, and promoting anti-abortion and anti-voting rights as a state lawmaker — allegations Pickering denied.
Pickering announced his retirement in December, saying he would not seek nomination for a permanent seat that would have required Senate approval.
Putting more evangelicals on the court will mean rulings more in tune with the religious convictions of churchgoers, said R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville.
"We are not asking for persons merely to be moral," Mohler said. "We want them to be believers in the Lord Jesus Christ."
Republicans pushed two of the nominees — including Texas Supreme Court Judge Priscilla Owen — from the Senate Judiciary Committee last week on party-line votes.
Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., raised the possibility of a deal. "I think we should compromise and say to them that ... we'll let a number" of the seven judges "go through, the two most extreme not go through and put off this vote and compromise," he said on ABC's "This Week."
Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is open to compromise, his spokesman said Sunday. "There's lot of concern among Republicans about the road Senator Frist is leading the Senate down," Jim Manley said.
In his remarks, Frist singled out Owen for praise, possibly indicating she will become the test case for the expected showdown. She has been nominated for the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Frist said that "even though a majority of senators support her, she has been denied an up-or-down vote on the floor of the Senate. ... Justice Owen deserves better. She deserves a vote."
The majority leader noted that some Republicans are opposed to ending judicial filibusters, fearing that the GOP may someday want to use the same tactics against appointments made by a Democratic president.
"That may be true. But if what Democrats are doing is wrong today, it won't be right for Republicans to do the same thing tomorrow," Frist said.
Republicans held a Senate majority for six of President Clinton's eight years in office and frequently prevented votes on his court appointments by bottling them up in the committee.
The Louisville event — "Justice Sunday: Stop the Filibuster Against People of Faith" — was held in a church and was sponsored by the Family Research Council.
Critics, including a number of ministers and Democratic politicians, said holding the event in a church was inappropriate.
At one of several rallies in the city on Sunday afternoon, about 100 protesters sat on the steps of the Jefferson County Courthouse as public officials voiced their dissent.
During another protest, several hundred people gathered at a Presbyterian church where progressive religious leaders condemned Frist and others for using the pulpit to spread a political message.
But Tony Perkins, president of the group organizing the event, told Fox that "what this boils down to is that the philosophy of that minority of liberal senators in the United States Senate has been repudiated in almost election after election, almost every recent election."
During Sunday's event, names, photographs and office phone numbers of senators were flashed across the TV screens. Perkins asked those in the church and others watching a nationwide simulcast to call the senators and ask them to end the filibuster.
As Congress opens, Frist warns that filibuster rule could change. 5 January 2005. 2 May 2005. <www.baptistpress.com>.
WASHINGTON (BP)--Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said Jan. 4 that Republicans would not yet pursue a rule change to prevent the filibustering of judicial nominees -- but he warned Democrats that such a rule change could take place if needed.
"Some ... have suggested that the filibusters of the last Congress are reason enough to offer a procedural change today, right here and right now. But at this moment I do not choose that path," Frist, a Republican from Tennessee, said during opening remarks on the first day of the new Congress.
"My Democratic colleagues have new leadership. And in the spirit of bipartisanship, I want to extend my hand across the aisle."
Sen. Harry Reid, D.-Nev., has replaced former Senator Tom Daschle as minority leader. Daschle lost his seat in November.
During President Bush's first term, Daschle and fellow Democrats used the filibuster to block 10 of Bush's judicial nominees, preventing a floor vote even though all of them had enough votes to pass. While 60 votes are needed to overcome a filibuster, a simple majority of 51 is needed for confirmation. Much of the opposition was led by liberal activist and pro-choice groups concerned about the nominees' pro-life beliefs.
Republicans charged that the use of filibusters on judicial nominees was unconstitutional and prevents the Senate from offering advice and consent, which is outlined in the Constitution.
Many Republicans say that Senate rules can be changed to prevent the filibustering of nominees. Such a rule change, they say, would require only 51 votes -- a threshold that became more reachable on Election Day when Republicans increased their number of Senate seats to 55. New senators were sworn in Jan. 4.
Frist said one of Bush's nominees will be brought to the floor in February.
"If my Democratic colleagues continue to filibuster judicial nominees, the Senate will face this choice: fail to do its constitutional duty, or reform itself and restore its traditions, and do what the Framers intended.
"Right now, we cannot be certain judicial filibusters will cease. So I reserve the right to propose changes to Senate Rule XXII and do not acquiesce to carrying over all the rules from the last Congress," Frist said, referring to the Senate rule relating to filibusters.
The last Congress, he said, "failed to perform an essential constitutional duty."
"These filibusters were unprecedented," he said. "Never in the history of the Senate has a minority filibustered a judicial nominee that had clear majority support.
"... As a public servant who has twice taken an oath to support and defend the Constitution, I cannot stand idly by -- nor should any of us -- if the Senate fails to do its constitutional duty.
Manuel Miranda, a former legal counsel to Frist, told Human Events Online that Frist's comments were a significant step toward a rule change.
“What Frist did [Jan. 4] was a historic moment in the Senate," Miranda said. "It was one of the boldest things he could have done. He took an enormous step that few majority leaders have done before."
Judicial nominees are one of a handful of top issues to Christian conservatives, who cite a series of rulings from recent decades as evidence that conservative justices are needed both on the Supreme Court and all federal courts. Some of the more controversial decisions were the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling legalizing abortion, a 2000 ruling overturning a law that banned partial-birth abortion and a 2003 ruling overturning anti-sodomy laws. Conservatives fear that the court eventually will overturn the federal Defense of Marriage Act, thus legalizing same-sex "marriage" nationwide.
During his floor speech Frist did not specifically mention a constitutional marriage amendment but seemed to make reference to it, when he said that he and Bush are committed to "protecting the values that serve as the foundation of a healthy society: marriage, families and a culture of life that protects human dignity at every stage of development."
Harry Reid, the Kurds and Filibusters. 17 February 2005. 2 May 2005. <www.hillnews.com>.
Finally, after two years of struggle, Democratic leaders have found something good to come out of what Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) likes to call the “catastrophic failure” of America’s involvement in Iraq.
And what is that good thing?
This week, Democrats have been atwitter about remarks on the subject of filibusters made by freshman Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), who just returned from a visit to Iraq. While there, Isakson met with Kurdish leaders as they prepare to take minority seats in the new Iraqi National Assembly. On the Senate floor Tuesday, Isakson described his conversation with one Kurdish official about the protection of Kurdish rights.
“Even though the results of the election were not complete at the time we were there, we knew they would be in a minority,” Isakson said. “And we asked, ‘Don’t you fear that, the Shiites’ inevitably being in the majority, that you’ll be overturned?’ He says, ‘Oh, no, we have a secret weapon.’”
“This is a Kurdish leader, of course, in the middle of Iraq in the 21st century, who said he had a secret weapon,” Isakson continued. “And we asked what the secret weapon was. He said, ‘Filibuster.’”
Meeting with reporters after the Democratic policy luncheon Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), the leader of filibusters against 10 of President Bush’s judicial nominees, read Isakson’s statement aloud and added that Isakson “went on to praise Iraq for basing their government on American democracy and using the filibuster as the way they would ensure that the majority never overran the minority. So that’s what they’re saying in Iraq.”
Reid then asked if there were any questions. Someone asked, “So your strategy on judges is based on Iraqi politics?”
“Pardon me?” Reid said as the group began to laugh. Reid pronounced the question “facetious” and didn’t answer it.
Just hours after Reid’s appropriation of Isakson’s floor speech, Isakson issued a statement saying his “good friend Harry Reid” had misunderstood his remarks.
The issue, Isakson pointed out, was not the filibuster per se but the abuse of the filibuster.
“Let there be no reservation or doubt that I believe the Senate should vote on each and every judicial appointment made by the President of the United States and that no rule or procedure should ever stop the Senate from exercising its constitutional responsibility.”
Despite that damage control, Isakson’s remarks — and Reid’s use of them — left some Republicans a bit dismayed.
“Oh, jeez,” was all one would say when told what the Georgia senator had said. Not exactly on message.
But others didn’t get what the fuss was about.
“My reaction is that I’m baffled that [Democrats] think there’s anything there,” another Republican said. “Everyone has always defended the filibuster as a protection of minority rights in the realm of legislation.”
Of course, whether it should apply beyond the realm of legislation to the realm of judicial nominations is the issue at hand — and the one that will be settled, one way or the other, by the coming battle in the Senate.
Meanwhile, Reid is telling the world that the battle has already been fought and the Democrats won. He’s even trying to suggest that, contrary to popular belief, the president’s filibustered nominees have actually gotten their votes in the Senate.
“Remember, when you have a vote on cloture, it is a vote,” Reid said at his news conference. “It’s not as if it doesn’t exist. It’s a real vote.”
And since the Senate has already voted on those Bush nominees — where did you get the impression that there were filibusters going on? — there is no need to expect anything new after the president renominated them this week.
“Renomination is not the key,” Reid said. “I think the question is those judges that have already been turned down in the Senate. And unless there’s something that is new that I’m not aware of with each of these men and women, we will vote the same way we did in the past.”
One reporter was curious about Reid’s we’ve-already-voted argument, asking, “So a vote on cloture is equivalent to voting on the nomination?”
“A vote on cloture is a vote on cloture,” Reid said.
Now that clears things up.
Last week, in an e-mail that Democrats labeled a vicious personal attack, the Republican National Committee called Reid the “Chief Democrat Obstructionist.”
Senate Democrats dashed off a letter to the president. They have “every intention” to “work with” Bush “on the important issues that face our country,” they said. And they urged the president to “keep your word about being a uniter and publicly halt these counter-productive attacks.”
But why are they so upset? The “Chief Democrat Obstructionist” label seems not only true but something of which Reid might be proud.
After all, the Kurds are watching.
DeLay Urges Secretary Rumsfeld to Keep 147th at Ellington. 2 May 2005. <www.political-stuff.blogspot.com>.
DeLay Urges Secretary Rumsfeld to Keep 147th at Ellington
Letter Highlights Importance of Defending the Gulf Coast
WASHINGTON –Congressman Tom DeLay (R-Sugar Land) yesterday sent a letter to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld emphasizing the strategic military value of Ellington Field and the importance of keeping the 147th Fighter Wing to protect the Gulf Coast.
“The strong military value of Ellington and its ability to defend the region are evident in its resources and the dedication of the men and women working there,” DeLay wrote in the letter. “In your department's recommendations to the Base Realignment and Closure Commission, I strongly urge the department to retain the current military assets at Ellington and to recommend Ellington for increased joint capabilities.
“Ellington Field has played an important role in our nation's defense, and it is equally qualified to have an important role in its future,” DeLay added.
Transcript of interview with Tom DeLay. The Washington Times. 14 April 2005. 2 May 2005. <www.washtimes.com>.
Reporter Charles Hurt: A lot of smart people say that no matter how you limit the growth of spending, it's not going to have a dramatic impact on shrinking government. What three big-ticket items would you personally like to see the government get out of the business of doing?
Mr. DeLay: Well, I'm not sure I want to go there. Let me put it a different way. What people don't notice is this House has led the way and has had tax relief - sometimes more than once in a year - every year since we've been in the majority. That's really important. Some of it actually has become law. More important than that is that it's been over 10 years since we voted to raise any federal taxes. How did we do that? We grew the economy. Through our policies, we helped the economy grow.
The idea is to hold the line on spending and let the economy catch up. Balanced budgets can be done [House Minority Leader] Nancy Pelosi's way. We could do that tomorrow. We could raise enough taxes to balance the budget. That's what they did in 1993. That's not where we're going. We're holding down spending. In our budget, we actually are cutting nondefense discretionary spending. We're actually cutting it. Not just freezing it, cutting. And so you hold down spending and let the economy grow. Part of our agenda is the tax reform. We're very strong on throwing out this tax code and replacing it with a 21st century tax code that will probably allow us to double the economy in less than 10 years.
Transcript of interview with Tom DeLay. The Washington Times. 14 April 2005. 2 May 2005. <www.washtimes.com>.
Managing Editor Fran Coombs: Isn't the reason you don't want to name big-ticket items that once you start a program ... it's difficult to get rid of the program?
Mr. DeLay: That's certainly been the case. And the Department of Education, the Department of Commerce - you're absolutely right. But the opposite is also true. If I named anything I would like to get rid of, then my ability to actually get rid of it is over.
Because the minute the press gets a hold of it, the tsunami comes in, and there's no way to make it happen.
It Didn't Start With Tom DeLay. CBS News. 26 April 2005. 2 May 2005.
CBS) A new study shows that members of Congress have taken more than $16 million in privately financed trips over the past five years, with many of the trips sponsored by non-profit groups that are not obligated to disclose who paid the bills.
The results of the study by PoliticalMoneyLine, an Internet site that compiles campaign finance information, were first reported by USA Today.
The problems of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, have placed a spotlight on congressional travel. DeLay has been accused of a spate of alleged ethical lapses, including travel that may have been paid for by a lobbyist.
Congressional rules permit privately financed travel, provided the money doesn't come from a lobbyist or the representative of a foreign interest.
But the study shows that more than half the private money spent on congressional travel since 2000 - $8.8 million - came from non-profit organizations who are not obligated to identify who may be actually paying the bills.
Widespread interest in DeLay's woes have spread bipartisan jitters through the halls of Congress. The Washington Post reports that members are racing to put their travel and campaign finance records in order in case their own activities come under scrutiny.
The newspaper also said that some members are restricting privately financed travel or even halting it altogether because of affaire DeLay.
The PoliticalMoneyLine study reviewed 5,410 trips taken by 605 members of the House and Senate. Democratic lawmakers had the edge, taking 3,025 trips, to 2,375 trips for GOP members.
The No. 1 trip-taker in dollar terms was Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. Sensenbrenner took 19 trips valued at $168,000.
In contrast, DeLay finished 28th by taking 14 trips valued at $94,568.
Among those higher on the list than DeLay were 2008 presidential wannabes Joseph Biden, D-Del., and Evan Bayh, D-Ind., and two members of the Foreign Relations Committee, Richard Lugar, R-Indiana, and outgoing Marylander Paul Sarbanes (D).
Rep. Harold Ford Jr., D-Tenn., took the most trips - 63. But Ford's less expensive domestic jaunts only totaled $61,000.
Top travel destinations, besides the U.S., were Mexico and Israel.
TV Ratings: What the TV Parental Guidelines Mean. 2 May 2005. <www.nbc.com>.
TV Ratings: What the TV Parental Guidelines Mean
The ratings system, also known the TV Parental Guidelines, was established by the National Association of Broadcasters, the National Cable Television Association and the Motion Picture Association of America. These ratings are displayed on the television screen for the first 15 seconds of rated programming and, in conjunction with the V-Chip, permit parents to block programming with a certain rating from coming into their home. The TV Ratings system has been in place since 1997. It was designed to give parents more information about the content and age-appropriateness of TV shows. A description of the ratings is as follows:
TV-Y All Children
This program is designed to be appropriate for all children. Whether animated or live-action, the themes and elements in this program are specifically designed for a very young audience, including children from ages 2-6. This program is not expected to frighten younger children.
TV-Y7 Directed to Older Children
This program is designed for children age 7 and above. It may be more appropriate for children who have acquired the developmental skills needed to distinguish between make-believe and reality. Themes and elements in this program may include mild fantasy or comedic violence, or may frighten children under the age of 7. Therefore, parents may wish to consider the suitability of this program for their very young children.
TV-Y7-FV Directed to Older Children-Fantasy Violence
For those programs where fantasy violence may be more intense or more combative than other programs in the TV-Y7 category, such programs will be designated TV-Y7-FV.
TV-G General Audience
Most parents would find this program appropriate for all ages. Although this rating does not signify a program designed specifically for children, most parents may let younger children watch this program unattended. It contains little or no violence, no strong language and little or no sexual dialogue or situations.
TV-PG Parental Guidance Suggested
This program contains material that parents may find unsuitable for younger children. Many parents may want to watch it with their younger children. The theme itself may call for parental guidance and/or the program contains one or more of the following: moderate violence (V), some sexual situations (S), infrequent coarse language (L), or some suggestive dialogue (D).
TV-14 Parents Strongly Cautioned
This program contains some material that many parents would find unsuitable for children under 14 years of age. Parents are strongly urged to exercise greater care in monitoring this program and are cautioned against letting children under the age of 14 watch unattended. This program contains one or more of the following: intense violence (V), intense sexual situations (S), strong coarse language (L), or intensely suggestive dialogue (D)..
TV-MA Mature Audience Only
This program is specifically designed to be viewed by adults and therefore may be unsuitable for children under 17. This program contains one or more of the following: graphic violence (V), explicit sexual activity (S), or crude indecent language (L).
TV Parental Guidelines may have one or more letters added to the basic rating which informs parents when a show contains higher levels of violence, sex, adult language or suggestive dialogue.
The Content Labels
TV Parental Guidelines may have one or more letters added to the basic rating to let parents know when a show contains higher levels of violence, sex, adult language or suggestive dialogue:
S- sexual situations
L- coarse or crude indecent language
D- suggestive dialogue (usually means talk about sex)
FV- fantasy violence
The New TV Ratings Compromise: The Good, the Bad, and the Complicated. July 1997. 2 May 2005. < www.joannecantor.com>.
It's good news indeed that the television industry has agreed to revise its "TV Parental Guidelines" to mollify its critics. The original system, which, like the decades-old movie (MPAA) ratings, gave age guidelines but did not get specific about a program's content, had three major flaws: First, it was precisely the opposite of what parents overwhelmingly wanted. In five national surveys (including one I conducted with the National PTA), parents said they wanted information about the content of a program, not a recommendation about who should view it. Second, by not specifying whether the program contained sex, violence, or coarse language, the system did not give parents the information they needed to decide whether it was a program they should prevent their child from seeing. Third, research I conducted for the National Television Violence Study (and corroborated by others) shows that age-based, restrictive ratings lure children to the very programs we are trying to shield them from, but that content information is much less enticing.
The compromise rating system will add a variety of letters to the original age designations to alert parents to the specific content that was responsible for the rating. For most programs, which already can receive ratings of TV-G: General Audience, TV-PG: Parental Guidance Suggested, TV-14: Parents Strongly Cautioned, or TV-MA: Mature Audience Only, the upper three ratings may also be accompanied by a V for violent content, an L for crude language, an S for sexual content, and a D for sexual dialog or innuendo. For programs aimed at children, which now are classified as either TV-Y: For All Children, or TV-Y7: For Older Children, an FV may be added to the Y7 category to indicate that the program contains "fantasy violence."
The fact that we have a compromise is a great tribute to the many child advocacy groups, led by the National PTA, who worked tirelessly to bring about this change, to parents all around the country, who made their feelings known, and to members of the House and Senate, particularly Congressman Ed Markey of Massachusetts and Senator John McCain of Arizona, who responded to the needs and desires of parents and kept the pressure on the television industry. The provision of the additional content information will undoubtedly be helpful to parents, who are simply asking for help in navigating the diverse and disturbing flood of images and ideas that enters their homes, unbidden, through their television. In this sense, the compromise is a major step forward.
The bad news is that the compromise rating system retains some unsavory features of the original system, based on the reluctance of the industry to give up on their age-based rating structure. First, the age guidelines ensure that the "forbidden fruit" effect will continue, and thereby make parents' jobs harder by adding to the allure of restricted programs. Second, the age-based structure makes it impossible to discern information about content that exists at more than one age-level within a program. Under the current plan, for example, if a program is rated TV14-L because it has "strong coarse language," but it also has "moderate violence" which would otherwise merit the PG level, the program will be designated simply as TV14-L. No mention will be made of the violent content. To do otherwise, it is argued, would be too complicated. But if the industry had agreed to adopt a simple content-based system, a program could easily be designated as having different levels of different contents, thereby allowing full disclosure of its controversial aspects.
Finally, the industry's insistence on euphemisms, rather than describing content clearly and accurately, is a major complicating factor. Rather than accepting three levels of sex, violence, and coarse language, as most advocacy groups had recommended, the industry insisted upon adding "D" for situations in which sex is talked about, but no sexual activity is shown. In addition, they balked at using the word "violence" to refer to the mayhem that goes on in many children's shows, such as "Power Rangers" or "The X-Men." Instead, they use the letters "FV" to refer to "fantasy violence" -- whether the violence is indeed of the impossible variety or whether it is quite realistic but simply performed by animated characters. In the case of both "D" and "FV," the change was insisted upon by the industry to reduce the possible loss of advertising revenue they expected the word "sex" on the one hand, or "violence" on the other, would cause.
The complication of the new system represents a challenge to the advocacy groups, who will need to work hard to make the system user-friendly for parents. It is important that the public be made aware that this complication was not due to unreasonableness on the part of the advocacy community, but rather was an effort on the part of the TV industry to preserve its profits.
Parents Favor New Limits on TV Content in Early Evening Hours. Kaiser Family Foundation. 23 September 2004. 2 May 2005. <www.kff.org>.
A majority of parents say they are “very” concerned about the amount of sex (60%) and violence (53%) their children are exposed to on TV, according to a new national survey of parents released today by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. And after being read arguments on both sides of the issue, nearly two-thirds of parents (63%) say they favor new regulations to limit the amount of sex and violence in TV shows during the early evening hours, when children are most likely to be watching (35% are opposed).
Overall parents are more concerned about inappropriate content on TV than in other media: 34% say TV concerns them most, compared to 16% who say the Internet, 10% movies, 7% music, and 5% video games. Half (50%) of all parents say they have used the TV ratings to help guide their children’s viewing, including one in four (24%) who say they use them “often.” While use of the V-Chip has increased substantially since 2001 (when 7% of all parents said they used it), it remains modest at just 15% of all parents, or about four in 10 (42%) of those who report having a V-Chip equipped TV.
One specific incident that sparked a great deal of controversy – the Janet Jackson incident at this year’s Super Bowl – was of less concern to parents with only 17% “very” concerned about the impact of the incident on their children.
The survey – Parents, Media, and Public Policy – is being released at a briefing that includes Senator Sam Brownback, FCC Commissioner Kathleen Abernathy, former Chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association Jack Valenti, Senior Vice President at News Corporation Ellen Agress, and Director of the Children & the Media Program at Children Now Patti Miller.
“What concerns parents most is not isolated incidents, but the sex and violence they believe their kids are exposed to every day in the shows they regularly watch,” said Vicky Rideout, Vice President and Director of the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Program for the Study of Entertainment Media and Health. “While many parents have used the ratings or the V-Chip, too many still don’t know what the ratings mean or even that their TV includes a V-Chip,” she added.
SPRATT SAYS NEW TV VIOLENCE STUDY CONFIRMS NEED FOR BETTER RATINGS. 26 March 1997. 2 May 2005. <www.house.gov>.
WASHINGTON -- U.S. Rep. John Spratt (D-SC) says a study on TV violence released today "confirms the need for better and more descriptive ratings for television shows." Spratt, a principal author of the V-Chip law, called the current TV ratings "a failure" and criticized broadcasters for continuing to air a large number of violent programs aimed at children.
"This study finds that the current TV ratings may actually be encouraging children to watch the most violent shows," said Spratt. "Clearly, we need better TV ratings that are based on a show's content and not on a viewer's age. And the sooner, the better, because the broadcast industry has done little, if anything, to cut down on violence since we began this debate two years ago."
The National Television Violence Study, the largest and most scientific of its kind, is a three-year effort initiated in 1994 in response to overwhelming scientific evidence that TV violence has harmful effects on society. The project is funded by the National Cable Television Association. It involves the work of media researchers at four universities --- the University of California, Santa Barbara; the University of Texas, Austin; the University of Wisconsin, Madison; and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill --- as well as representatives of national medical and educational organizations. The findings released today represent the second year of the project. They are based on a content analysis of 2,757 programs across 23 broadcast and cable channels from October 1995 to June 1996.
One of the more striking findings was in the area of TV ratings, a subject of debate in Congress and the broadcast industry. According to the study, ratings based on age --- like those used for movies and now television shows --- actually increased children's interest in restricted programs, but none of the content-based systems had this effect.
Of eight rating systems tested, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) ratings, which are similar to the new TV ratings, were the only ones that significantly affected children's eagerness to see programs. The more restrictive ratings of "PG-13: Parents strongly cautioned" and "R: Restricted" increased a program's attractiveness, while the lowest rating "G: General Audiences" decreased it. According to the study, the only other significant effect of ratings on children's interest in programs was that of the HBO-Showtime content codes on younger children. However, rather than increasing interest in the movie, the content codes of "MV: Mild Violence" and GV: Graphic Violence" reduced children's interest in it.
"This is solid evidence that the current TV ratings are a failure," said Spratt. "Broadcasters should give parents what they want --- content-based ratings parents can use with the V-Chip to block out violent shows from their homes."
Pistons win NBA title with rout of Lakers. York County. 16 June 2004. 2 May 2005. < newslink.nandomedia.com>.
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (June 16, 2004 04:20 PM EDT) - Motown is Titletown. The descendants of the Bad Boys made sure of it with a stunning upset that was really no contest at all.
Without a superstar and without being given much of a chance, the Detroit Pistons humiliated the Los Angeles Lakers 100-87 Tuesday night in Game 5 of the NBA Finals for their first title in 14 years.
The Detroit Pistons win the NBA Championship over the Los Angeles Lakers.
With finals MVP Chauncey Billups and Ben Wallace leading the way, Detroit was at its very best in the clincher, defeating Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant and the rest of the Lakers in every facet of the game. It was methodical - and shocking - the way the Pistons shut down the Lakers with their patented defense and pulled ahead and away for one of the biggest surprises in NBA finals history.
"We're on top of the world, man," Billups said.
Wallace took a big step toward becoming a superstar with an 18-point, 22-rebound effort that helped Detroit become the first Eastern Conference team to win the title since the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls in 1998.
Equally important was 14 points from Billups, the best guard on the floor throughout the series, 21 from Richard Hamilton and 17 from Tayshaun Prince.
"We just took it to 'em," Prince said. "We knew we could play with anybody in this league and I think we showed it."
Bryant scored 24 points to lead the Lakers, and O'Neal added 20 points and eight rebounds for a team that was built to win a championship with the addition of Karl Malone and Gary Payton this season. Derek Fisher and Slava Medvedenko were the only other Lakers in double figures, each scoring 10 points.
Game 5 was so lopsided that Lakers owner Jerry Buss, carrying his jacket and accompanied by an entourage, headed for the exit before the third quarter was over. By the time the last timeout rolled around, fans were already being urged to keep their celebrations under control.
As the final buzzer sounded and confetti began dropping, Pistons coach Larry Brown stoically walked to midcourt and received an affectionate handshake and warm smile from Lakers coach Phil Jackson and a hug from Bryant.
"Congratulations to those guys," O'Neal said. "They deserved it. They flat-out beat us."
Jackson said the chances of him returning to coach the Lakers are "pretty slim." Many of the other Lakers, including Bryant, could be gone to another team. Bryant also faces the possibility of prison time if he loses his sexual assault case in Colorado.
"Maybe losing this one is enough for me to say it's time to give it up," said Jackson, who has won a total of nine titles as a coach with Los Angeles and Chicago, "but I'm not yet ready to make that statement.
"It didn't come out quite as well as it did in the past," Jackson added. "It was a Cinderella story actually that this team had, but Detroit proved to be a little better than we were in this series."
Many fans at The Palace stood through the final several minutes, savoring every moment they had waited for since the Bad Boys of 1989 and '90 won back-to-back titles.
The game steadily got away from the Lakers from the second quarter on, unraveling completely over the latter part of the third quarter when it became clear they weren't going to make a game of it.
On one especially telling sequence, Bryant missed a 3-pointer, got his own rebound but missed on a drive, and Wallace soared high above everyone to snare his 14th rebound. Bryant was then called for a blocking foul as Billups brought the ball upcourt, and an "M-V-P" chant greeted the point guard as he went to the line and made it 80-59.
For good measure, Bryant missed a layup just moments later, and the quarter ended with Detroit ahead by 23 and the Lakers shuffling off the court a thoroughly defeated team.
Lindsey Hunter began the fourth quarter by stealing the ball from Bryant, who could manage only a grimace and didn't even give chase as Hunter took it in for a breakaway. It was a Pistons party the rest of the way, the culmination of one of the greatest and unexpected success stories in NBA annals.
Even before the series, the Pistons promised they were prepared to shock the world. What they lacked in star power they made up for in cohesiveness and determination - two factors that Detroit displayed in abundance throughout the finals while executing their coach's mantra to "play the right way."
For Billups, a castoff in five NBA cities before he landed in Detroit, that meant taking advantage of his mismatch against Gary Payton and making the key baskets that demoralized the Lakers through all five games.
For Rasheed Wallace, it meant keeping relatively quiet when the officials whistled him for fouls and his coach sat him on the bench for extended periods because of foul trouble.
For Prince, it meant keeping one of his long arms in Bryant's face whenever possible and justifying the faith team architect Joe Dumars showed in him a year ago when he passed on Carmelo Anthony with the second pick in the draft.
For Ben Wallace, it was about pounding the boards relentlessly and showing a level of effort O'Neal could only envy. For Richard Hamilton, it was proving how big of a mistake Jordan made two years ago when he dealt him from Washington in exchange for Jerry Stackhouse.
And collectively for the Pistons, it was about not being afraid as previous Eastern Conference opponents had been when confronted with the task of taking on the big, bad Lakers.
"Since this is toward the end of it for me, and the way we did it against such a quality coach and a quality team, it's a pretty incredible feeling," said the 63-year-old Brown.
Detroit never flinched in this series - even when things seemed to turn the Lakers' way on Bryant's clutch 3-pointer that forced overtime in Game 2 and led to Los Angeles' only victory. The Pistons merely headed home to their adoring, fervent fans and exerted their will and style.
"I never stopped dreamin', man," Billups said.
The title is the first for Brown after 21 years coaching in the NBA, a feat he was unable to accomplish with Allen Iverson, Reggie Miller, David Robinson or David Thompson.
Brown also won an NCAA championship with Kansas in 1988, making him the only coach with titles in college and the NBA.
Brown said during the series that there was no one - players, coaches, owners or fans - who wanted the championship more than he did, and what made it so special - or "neat," to use one of his preferred terms - was the Pistons' ability to do it the right way.
Malone, nursing a knee injury, was replaced in the starting lineup by Medvedenko, who looked for his shot right away and made his first three attempts to help the Lakers to an early 14-7 lead behind 7-for-11 shooting. But a problem came early, too, for Los Angeles as O'Neal picked up his second foul just four minutes into the game.
After O'Neal went to the bench, the Pistons scored the next eight points to force Jackson to reinsert O'Neal with 4:16 left in the first quarter. Detroit ended the period ahead 25-24, then steadily built its lead in the second quarter by running the fast break more than usual and capitalizing on mismatches in their offensive sets.
O'Neal picked up his third foul with 3:36 left before halftime, and Detroit held a 55-45 lead at intermission on 61 percent shooting, including 5-for-5 by Ben Wallace. Bryant had 14 points on 4-for-12 shooting, while O'Neal scored just seven.
The Pistons grabbed five offensive rebounds in the first six minutes of the third quarter to maintain a double-digit lead. Bryant had a couple of spectacular drives for dunks, but they were negated by the Pistons patiently working the ball on offense to whichever player had the matchup advantage.
A high-leaping, follow-up dunk by Ben Wallace was followed by a steal, layup and three-point play by Billups for a 72-55 lead, and the Pistons were on their way to finishing the Lakers off and denying Jackson his 10th title as a coach, leaving him tied with Red Auerbach for the most in league history.
Notes: The 10 points each by Fisher and Medvedenko marked the first time in the series someone other than Bryant or O'Neal reached double figures for the Lakers. ... Hamilton and Payton picked up double technical fouls after Payton smashed Hamilton across his face mask with a forearm in the third quarter. ... Aretha Franklin sang the national anthem. ... Lakers superfan Jack Nicholson made a rare appearance at a road game but did not secure a courtside seat. He took it well when fans booed him during a third-quarter timeout.
2005 NBA Playoffs First Round Glances. 22 April 2005. 2 May 2005. <www.insidehoops.com>.
The 2005 NBA Playoffs start on Saturday. This year's postseason promises to be as exciting as ever. Here are quick comments on each first round matchup:
2005 EAST NBA PLAYOFFS: ROUND ROUND GLANCES
No. 1 Miami vs. No. 8 New Jersey: The Heat have to slow Vince Carter down first, and Jason Kid down next. The Nets have to do the same to Shaquille O'Neal and Dwyane Wade. Everything above is possible, except for containing Shaq. Nets forward Brian Scalabrine has improved lately. Miami has a rugged tough guy in Udonis Haslem up front. The Nets don't have a similar counterpart. Also, Eddie Jones gives Miami scoring punch and defensive pressure. The Heat should advance.
No. 2 Detroit vs. No. 7 Philadelphia: The biggest star here is little Allen Iverson. His offense is incredible. But Detroit's defense is the league's best, and they can attempt to slow Iverson down without sacrificing many open shots. Kyle Korver really has to light things up from outside. Andre Iguodala is athletic and versatile. And Chris Webber needs to bring his A-game every single night. Detroit doesn't have last season's depth, but their starters are the same as last season and the first two guys off the bench can do the job. The Pistons should advance.
No. 3 Boston vs. No. 6 Indiana: Since trading for Antoine Walker, the Celtics have been a fun, excellent team. The Pacers were doing well without the suspended, then injured Jermaine O'Neal, who recently returned and actually threw team chemistry off a bit. This is Indiana legend Reggie Miller's last run, and he'll try to go out with a bang. Boston's Paul Pierce is a star that people sometimes forget about. Walker's fit in perfectly. And the Celtics have lots of talent around the two, including a bunch of athletic rookies and great sixth man Ricky Davis providing scoring punch off the bench. Indiana is without the injured Jamaal Tinsley and the suspended Ron Artest. And they're still working O'Neal back into their mix. Bad timing. The Celtics should advance.
No. 4 Chicago vs. No. 5 Washington: The Bulls are hit with injuries and playing without starting small forward Luol Deng and starting center Eddy Curry. Starting point guard Kirk Hinrich had a great season but will have to step up even more. Rugged defender Andres Nocioni must step up his offense. And super rookie Ben Gordon comes off Chicago's bench to rip the net. Washington rides their big offensive three, Gilbert Arenas, Larry Hughes and Antawn Jamison. Defensively, only Hughes stands out for the Wizards. This is a great matchup that could go the distance. But the Bulls will miss their injured players. The Wizards should advance.
2005 WEST NBA PLAYOFFS: FIRST ROUND GLANCES
No. 1 Phoenix vs. No. 8 Memphis: The Suns run and gun, and are awesomely effective and fun to watch. And although the NBA playoffs usually call for slower, more grinding basketball, expect Phoenix to just keep on flying up and down the court. Point guard Steve Nash holds the team together. Shawn Marion and Amare Stoudemire are unguardable. Marion has outside range. And Quentin Richardson and Joe Johnson rip nets from outside. The Grizzlies are a versatile, athletic, hard-working, smart team. But Pau Gasol, Mike Miller and friends don't have what it takes to upset the Suns. Unless Phoenix just totally collapses, they should be fine. The Suns should advance.
No. 2 San Antonio vs. No. 7 Denver: The Spurs have won championships with this core of players, and although a few plugs have changed, the guys that matter have remained the same. Tim Duncan is an MVP candidate every season. Tony Parker keeps improving. And Manu Ginobili took his game up to another level this season. The Spurs defense is awesome. As for the Nuggets, they were lousy to start the season, gained a new coach in George Karl, and since then have been as good as any team in the league. This is an amazing matchup. The Spurs got a raw deal in drawing Denver. Carmelo Anthony is a smarter, much more effective player under Karl. Kenyon Martin has playoff experience. Andre Miller has a level had and serious game. And Marcus Camby's rebounding and defense is major. While it's easy to just go with the Spurs based on team experience, in reality the Nuggets have a great chance to advance. It could be an incredible series. Anything can happen. But, we have to just pick one, so: The Spurs should advance.
No. 3 Seattle vs. No. 6 Sacramento: The Kings have injury problems. Peja Stojakovic got hurt recently and will play, but may not be 100%. Starting center Brad Miller is out of action. And Bobby Jackson, who has been out, may try to come back, but that can't be counted on. Mike Bibby is awesome. Cuttino Mobley can score. And Kenny Thomas has been a nice surprise. The Sonics rebound like crazy and will punish the Kings big men. But recent injuries have also hurt Seattle. Rashard Lewis and Antonio Davis just came back. Ray Allen's been healthy. But outside-shooting big-man Vladimir Radmanovic was key, as he's a major matchup problem for whoever guards him. The Sonics have struggled majorly to end the season. This matchup is a tossup. The Kings should advance.
No. 4 Dallas vs. No. 5 Houston: Along with Spurs vs. Nuggets, this is the best fascinating first round matchup. Besides their offense, the Mavericks are a good defensive team now. Dirk Nowitzki scores the points, and he gets help from a ton of guys. Jason Terry can score, as can Josh Howard and Michael Finley. Off the bench, Jerry Stackhouse provides quick buckets and improved defense. And Keith Van Horn could score 18 any night he wanted. The Mavs are versatile, ridiculously deep and scary. The Rockets are a new team and had growing pains earlier in the season. They've since developed into a cohesive squad. Yao Ming understands what it means to be an NBA center. Tracy McGrady still scores like crazy but does so in a manner that fits with the team system. Bobby Sura and Mike James help a lot. The Rockets play power forward by committee, and that sometimes hurts them. It's a shame that one of these teams will be gone after one round. The Mavs should win.
2005 NBA Playoffs Facts and Information. Spurs.com. 2 May 2005. <www.nba.com>.
The NBA playoffs are organized into four rounds as listed below. If every series goes to the maximum number of games, a team can play as many as 28 games. If a team has home court advantage, they may play as many as 16 home games during the four rounds. Playoff packages are sold in a 16-game book.
The top eight teams in each conference qualify for the playoffs. The team with the best record in each conference is seeded No. 1, the other two division winners is will be seeded No. 2 and No. 3 based on their win-loss record. The remaining six five teams are seeded Nos. 4-8 according to their win-loss records. (Home court advantage in all playoff series is determined by better win-loss record, not higher seeding.) In the event two or more teams are tied in the standings, a series of tie-breakers are applied to determine which team receives the higher seeding.
1. Better record in head-to-head games
2. Higher winning percentage within division (if teams are in the same division)
3. Higher winning percentage in conference games
4. Higher winning percentage against playoff teams in own conference
5. Higher winning percentage against playoff teams in opposite conference
6. Higher point differential between points scored and points allowed
1. Best head-to-head winning percentage among all teams tied
2. Highest winning percentage within division (if teams are in the same division)
3. Highest winning percentage in conference games
4. Highest winning percentage against playoff teams in own conference
5. Highest point differential between points scored and points allowed
2005 NBA Playoffs - Western Conference Round One Preview. Basketball. 2 May 2005. <www.probasketball.about.com>.
What Will Decide the Series? The health of Tim Duncan -- plain and simple. Duncan is returning after the worst of three sprained right ankles this season and the Nuggets physical frontline will test his ability to move inside and stand his ground defensively on the bum wheel. If Duncan shows signs of giving out, Denver will gain a huge mental boost knowing its greatest obstacle is vulnerable.
Reason to Believe in San Antonio: There isn't a more dependable team in the NBA than the Spurs, winners of eight of their last nine First Round Playoffs series. Not having Duncan healthy clearly takes some of the luster off the chalk favorite to win it all year-in and year-out, but don't discount the performance of the team in his absence. From Mar. 20-Apr. 12, San Antonio went 8-4 without Duncan. With Brent Barry, Robert Horry and Glenn Robinson emerging as significant contributors after season-long slumbers. And with Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili both capable of averaging 20 points per game in this series -- they combined for 35 a game vs. Denver this season -- it's obvious the Spurs cannot be passed off as a team whose fate rides solely on Duncan. San Antonio will get it done with whatever Duncan's able to provide them.
Reason to Bail on San Antonio: Duncan's ankles are the only thing that's ever been able to stop him. In four games since returning from the Injured List, he has not looked like the same player. Duncan averaged just 12 points on 43.6% FG shooting and the Spurs predictably lost three of those four games. Without Duncan carrying the offense, San Antonio will need to turn to Robinson to fill the void. Scoring has never been a problem for the Big Dog, but covering Carmelo Anthony could turn into a horror show. With defensive breakdowns comes more urgency on offense and the Spurs are not a team that reacts well to be taken out of their comfort zone. Injuries to Duncan have derailed San Antonio's title hopes before -- 1998 (ankle), 2000 (knee) -- and it's looking like the team will encounter a similar fate in 2005.
Reason to Believe in Denver: How about a 25-4 record since the All-Star break? That's more than a hot streak, more than a favorable schedule can hand you, more than luck ever got any team. The Nuggets are simply the best team in basketball right now under George Karl's guidance. And the only surprise with Denver is how poorly they played earlier in the year. We all knew Anthony would grow into one of the league's most lethal scorers, that Kenyon Martin and Nene would form the most vicious tandem at the four-spot in the game, that Marcus Camby might be the most athletically intimidating force in the West and that Andre Miller and Earl Boykins the engineers of an explosive offense. So here they are, after an admittedly unorthodox route, and a San Antonio squad, that today isn't what we thought it would be two months ago, can't stop the rush.
Reason to Bail on Denver: After a nightmarish first-half of the season, Carmelo caught fire in the second with a 22.2 scoring average on 47.5% shooting as the Nuggets soared. Bruce Bowen is about to extinguish him. The extraordinary one-on-one defender held Anthony to 17.8 points per game vs. San Antonio in four contests this year. "Not bad" you say? Well, that healthy scoring average came on horrendous 30.3% shooting from the field -- 16.7% from beyond the arc. His rookie year, Anthony delivered just 14.8 points on 39.3% shooting.
Yep, Bowen has Carmelo's number and an inefficient "volume" shooter like Anthony plays right into the Spurs' hands. San Antonio's defense denies everything, leading impatient players to make rash decisions with the ball when nothing presents itself early in the possession. Based on Anthony's performance in last year's Playoffs -- 15.0 points on 32.8% shooting -- which led to a swift 4-1 defeat at the hands of Minnesota, we'd say Denver is due for another disappointing end at the hands of its supposed superstar.
Book Charts: Top 10 Non-Fiction. Jam Showbiz. 28 April 2005. 2 May 2005. <jam.canoe.ca>.
Book Charts: Top 10 Non-Fiction
Here are the top 10 hardcover non-fiction books compiled by Maclean's magazine. Bracketed figures indicate position the previous week.
For the period ending: April 28, 2005
1. (1) Blink -- Malcolm Gladwell
2. (5) Pierre -- Nancy Southam
3. (2) French Women Don't Get Fat -- Mireille Guilano
4. (3) The Command of the Ocean -- N. A. M. Rodger
5. (4) The World is Flat -- Thomas L. Friedman
6. (6) Collapse -- Jared Diamond
7. (9) My Life So Far -- Jane Fonda
8. (7) Lilac Moon -- Sharon Butala
9. (8) Rollercoaster -- James Bartleman
10. (10) Break, Blow, Burn -- Camille Paglia
Top 10 NYT Adult Non-Fiction Best-Sellers. Marlcopa County Library District. 2 May 2005. <www.184.108.40.206>.
1. My life so far / Fonda, Jane, 1937-
2. Blink : the power of thinking without thinking / Gladwell, Malcolm, 1963-
3. The world is flat : a brief history of the twenty-first century / Friedman, Thomas L.
4. On bullshit / Frankfurt, Harry G., 1929-
5. Freakonomics : a rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything / Levitt, Steven D.
6. LIBERALISM IS A MENTAL DISORDER / Savage, Michael, 1942-
7. One soldier's story : a memoir / Dole, Robert J., 1923-
8. Three nights in August : strategy, heartbreak, and joy inside the mind of a manager / Bissinger, H. G.
9. Garlic and sapphires : the secret life of a critic in disguise / Reichl, Ruth.
10. A deadly game : the untold story of the Scott Peterson investigation / Crier, Catherine.
TOP 10: BESTSELLERS. CNN. 2 May 2005. <www.cnn.com>.
TOP 10: BESTSELLERS More Top 10 Lists: Box Office | Bestsellers | Nielsens
USA TODAY'S BESTSELLING BOOKS
1. "The South Beach Diet"by Arthur Agatston (Rodale) (NF-H)
2. "The Da Vinci Code"by Dan Brown (Doubleday) (F-H)
3. "The South Beach Diet Good Fats Good Carbs Guide"by Arthur Agatston (Rodale) (NF-P)
4. "Angels & Demons"by Dan Brown (Pocket Star) (F-P)
5. "The Ultimate Weight Solution Food Guide"by Phillip C. McGraw (Pocket) (P-NF)
6. "Chesapeake Blue"by Nora Roberts (Jove) (P-F)
7. "The Five People You Meet in Heaven"by Mitch Albom (Hyperion) (F-H)
8. "One Hundred Years of Solitude"by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Perennial) (F-P)
9. "The Proper Care & Feeding of Husbands"by Laura Schlessinger (HarperCollins) (NF-H)
10. "The King of Torts"by John Grisham (Dell) (F-P)
TOP 10: BESTSELLERS. CNN. 2 May 2005. <www.cnn.com>.
WALL STREET JOURNAL FICTION **
1. "The Da Vinci Code"by Dan Brown
2. "The Five People You Meet in Heaven"by Mitch Albom
3. "New Spring"by Robert Jordan
4. "Retreat, Hell!"by W.E.B. Griffin
5. "Eragon: Inheritance"by Christopher Paolini
6. "The Big Bad Wolf"by James Patterson
7. "The Amateur Marriage"by Anne Tyler
8. "Angels & Demons"by Dan Brown
9. "Trojan Odyssey"by Clive Cussler
10. "The Lady and the Unicorn"by Tracy Chevalier
The Pope Blog: Pope Benedict XVI. 6 May 2005. 8 May 2005. <www.thepopeblog.blogspot.com>.
In recent weeks, much debate has arisen over the authenticity of Pope Benedict XVI's new coat of arms. Finally it looks like our questions have been answered, as the official Vatican Web site is now featuring the new coat of arms on this page. It looks just like the Wikipedia graphic that I posted about last week - mitre (not tiara), crossed keys, crowned Ethiopian, St. Corbinian's bear, shell, and pallium (although with red crosses, not black).
The Pope Blog: Pope Benedict XVI. 6 May 2005. 8 May 2005. <www.thepopeblog.blogspot.com>.
It was one month ago, on April 2, that Pope John Paul II passed away. Pope Benedict XVI today marked the one-month anniversary of Pope John Paul II's death by celebrating mass in memory of him at 7:30 a.m. CET in his private chapel. Tonight at 7:00 p.m. CET (1:00 p.m. EDT), the Pope will privately visit the Vatican Grottoes so that he may pray at his predecessor's tomb.
The Pope Blog: Pope Benedict XVI. 6 May 2005. 8 May 2005. <www.thepopeblog.blogspot.com>.
In his first general audience, which was held this morning in St. Peter's Square in the presence of 15,000 people, the Pope again gave thanks to God for having elected him as Peter's successor, and explained why he chose the name of Benedict.
The Holy Father spoke of the feelings he was experiencing at the beginning of his ministry: "awe and gratitude to God, Who surprised me more than anyone in calling me to succeed the Apostle Peter; and interior trepidation before the greatness of the task and the responsibilities which have been entrusted to me. However, I draw serenity and joy from the certainty of God's help, that of His most Holy Mother the Virgin Mary, and of the patron saints. I also feel supported by the spiritual closeness of all the people of God whom, as I repeated last Sunday, I continue to ask to accompany me with persistent prayer."
"Resuming the Wednesday general audiences," he went on, "I wish to speak of the name I chose on becoming bishop of Rome and pastor of the universal Church. I chose to call myself Benedict XVI ideally as a link to the venerated Pontiff, Benedict XV, who guided the Church through the turbulent times of the First World War. He was a true and courageous prophet of peace who struggled strenuously and bravely, first to avoid the drama of war and then to limit its terrible consequences. In his footsteps I place my ministry, in the service of reconciliation and harmony between peoples, profoundly convinced that the great good of peace is above all a gift of God, a fragile and precious gift to be invoked, safeguarded and constructed, day after day and with everyone's contribution.
"The name Benedict also evokes the extraordinary figure of the great 'patriarch of western monasticism,' St. Benedict of Norcia, co-patron of Europe with Cyril and Methodius. The progressive expansion of the Benedictine Order which he founded exercised an enormous influence on the spread of Christianity throughout the European continent. For this reason, St. Benedict is much venerated in Germany, and especially in Bavaria, my own land of origin; he constitutes a fundamental point of reference for the unity of Europe and a powerful call to the irrefutable Christian roots of European culture and civilization."
The Pope appealed to St. Benedict for help "to hold firm Christ's central position in our lives. May he always be first in our thoughts and in all our activities!"
Before concluding, Benedict XVI announced that, just as at the beginning of his pontificate John Paul II had continued the reflections on Christian virtues begun by Pope John Paul I, in coming weekly audiences he would resume "the comments prepared by John Paul II on the second part of the Psalms and Canticles, which are part of Vespers. From next Wednesday, I will begin precisely from where his catechesis was interrupted after the general audience of January 26."
The Holy Father read out brief summaries of his catechesis, which he had delivered in Italian, in various other languages: English, French, Spanish and German. He then gave brief greetings to various groups in Croatian, Slovenian and Polish and concluded by addressing the 1,000 faithful from the archdiocese of Spoleto-Norcia, Italy, who were accompanied by Archbishop Riccardo Fontana.
Bush Successful in Appointing Activist Judges. Women's News. 8 May 2005. 8 May 2005. <www.womensenews.org>.
Bush has racked up an impressive streak of federal judicial appointments and the trend could scale back women's reproductive freedom, according to women's groups. Some of the most controversial appointments are detailed here.
Appointing Activist Judges. Women's News. 8 May 2005. 8 May 2005. <www.womensenews.org>.
With the presidential election looming, women's reproductive rights groups are taking aim at what they see as George W. Bush's anti-female nominees to the federal bench.
To make their case, they point to how White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales details President George W. Bush's success with the appointments of federal judges on the president's Web site.
There, Gonzales writes that Bush has nominated "a record number of federal judges . . . almost double the nominations that any of the past six presidents submitted in the first year."
The appointments to the federal bench, Gonzales says in a separate Web cast, "represents perhaps the President's longest lasting legacy."
The Washington-based National Women's Law Center also points out the Bush's strong record of appointments, noting that at least 173 of Bush's nominees to the federal district and circuit courts were confirmed. Far from finding that a cause for celebration, however, the advocacy group fears that the appointments could lead to a scaling back of women's rights, especially in the area of hard-won reproductive freedom.
Federal courts are "increasingly being dominated by judges who threaten core legal protections for women," argues Judith Appelbaum, vice president and legal director of the nonprofit advocacy organization. In addition, Appelbaum has her eye on the composition of the federal appeals court in the District of Columbia, also known as the DC Circuit Court, which rules on many policies instituted by federal agencies such as the Department of Labor.
While a majority of Bush's judicial nominees have been confirmed by the Senate, a handful of the most controversial appointments have been stalled in committee or by Senate filibusters.
Here is a summary of the most controversial candidates, some of whom are being filibustered:
Eliminating filibusters could backfire. Bowling Green Daily News. 4 May 2005. 8 May 2005. <www.bgdailynews.com>.
President Bush’s judicial nominees deserve fairness, which means an up or down vote in the full Senate, but overturning the use of judicial filibusters would be the wrong path for Republicans to take.
Currently, Democrats are obstructing 10 of Bush’s appeals court nominees by filibuster, a parliamentary tactic that is prolonged by speechmaking designed to delay legislative action. Democrats say that the 10 they are blocking are too conservative to warrant lifetime appointments to the bench.
Too conservative, like too liberal, is often in the eye of the beholder.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., has been negotiating with Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., for weeks, but the Democrats seem unwilling to find any middle ground.
What is ironic about this obstruction of is that all 10 received high marks from the American Bar Association, hardly a conservative organization.
We can understand the frustration causing Frist and his colleagues to explore dropping the judicial filibuster, but they must look at how this could affect their party in the future.
While Republicans currently enjoy a majority in both houses of the Congress, it won’t last forever, as history has shown.
Overturning the use of filibusters now is something that could come back to haunt the Republicans when they are in the minority.
We do agree that it is unfortunate that a minority, 44 Democratic senators, can block the wishes of the majority.
But the filibuster was designed to be used for that exact purpose.
The obstructionism seen thus far has been directed at lower court positions.
What is going to happen if Bush nominates a justice to the U.S. Supreme Court?
Democrats would likely obstruct anyone that Bush sends forward they consider too conservative.
Perhaps the Senate might weigh its options over ending the use of the judicial filibuster, but senators must think long and hard before they act because of the consequences we have mentioned.
The push to overturn the use of filibusters is understandable because it grows out of frustration, but in reality it is a double-edged sword that will only come back to haunt Republicans.
Those who obstruct today may complain bitterly about judicial filibusters down the road.
Maine has no use for filibusters. Portland Press Harold. 2 May 2005. 8 May 2005. <www.pressherald.mainetoday.com>.
As the looming showdown over filibustering some of President Bush's judicial nominations draws closer to a culmination, the terms of the debate become more strident but less enlightening.
Within Maine, however, a good case can be made that Maine's historical precedent, Maine's own judicial confirmation process and Mainers' own sense of decency all support a rule change to prevent judicial filibusters in the U.S. Senate.
Thomas Brackett Reed of Portland served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1877 to 1899. In 1889, while Reed was serving in one of his two stints as speaker of the House, Reed ended the practice then known as the "silent filibuster."
The silent filibuster - refusing to answer during the roll call - was used by the minority to defeat a quorum, thereby preventing the House from conducting business.
Reed, however, ordered the clerk to record the names of members physically present, even if they were silent. A great debate then ensued, which lasted for several days. Reed was pilloried from both sides of the aisle and earned the nickname "Czar Reed."
Nevertheless, Reed's principled stand against the silent filibuster is part of Maine's legacy to the nation, and provides a uniquely historical Maine precedent for eliminating the filibuster of judicial nominees.
Much of the national debate today involves a discussion about whether majority or minority rights should prevail in the judicial confirmation process.
Interestingly, at the state level, the Maine Constitution and legislative practice firmly support the rights of the majority to control the outcome of judicial nomin- ations.
Under our state constitution, the governor nominates judicial officers subject to confirmation by a majority vote of a legislative committee comprised of members of both houses. The party in the majority controls the composition of the committee, and thus determines the outcome.
Although the committee's vote "shall be reviewed by the Senate," it takes a 2/3 majority to override the committee recommendation. In other words, the minority doesn't stand a chance.
Christian Conservatives Take Aim at Filibusters. Reuters. 24 April 2005. 8 May 2005. <www.reuters.com>.
Conservatives across America were urged to pressure U.S. senators to end the use of filibusters against President Bush's judicial nominees in an appeal made on Christian radio and television networks on Sunday.
The broadcast organized by Christian conservatives launched the campaign with prominent public figures who called on audience members to telephone senators at their Capitol Hill offices beginning Monday to demand a vote.
"Tell them to do what's right. Tell them to do what's fair. Tell them to do their job, give judicial nominees the up-or-down votes they deserve," Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said in a prerecorded address.
The program, Entitled "Justice Sunday, was aired as the Senate nears a historic confrontation over Bush's judicial nominees.
Republicans have threatened to change the Senate's rules to ban procedural hurdles known as filibusters against judicial nominees. Democrats have vowed to retaliate by invoking other procedural hurdles to bring the Senate to a near halt.
The telecast from Highview Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky, had a potential audience of 61 million homes in 44 states, its sponsor, the Washington-based Family Research Council said.
The program opened with an announcer imploring "people of faith across America" to take a stand because some senators were blocking confirmation of appellate court nominees based on their faith and values.
"As American citizens we should not have to choose between believing and living what is in this book and by serving the public," said president Tony Perkins, holding a Bible in one hand and a gavel in the other.
Perkins asked viewers to take notes because he would give them "action steps." He read the telephone number for the U.S. Senate switchboard and throughout the broadcast the office phone numbers of some senators crawled across the screen.
Dr. Al Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, portrayed minority Democrats and "about six or eight very squishy Republicans" as obstructionists to judicial appointments.
Mohler said those senators need to hear from conservatives who are concerned about the courts and blocked judicial appointments.
"Let them know that you don't want them to delay and you don't want them to postpone," Mohler said. "Tell them that you care and that you will remember how they vote."
Who is Tom Delay of Texas? 8 May 2005. <www.november.org>.
On January 6, Rep. Tom Delay (R-TX) introduced his only proposed legislation for the 106th Congress so far, thank God I might add quickly. He titled the propsal: "A Bill to Limit the Jurisdiction of the Federal Courts with Respect to Prison Release Orders."
Delay's office decor was described in World Magazine, July 18, 1998. "A Capitol tourist who somehow eluded security and stumbled, unaware, into Tom Delay's offices might well conclude that the Texas Republican is some kind of Marquis de Sade in pin stripes. Mean looking braided leather bullwhips rest on wooden coffee tables and hang from the rich blue walls, clashing weirdly with the federal style elegance of the room."
Rep. Tom Delay wants to make sure that no matter how full our prisons get, nobody is gettin' out. No matter how many of the government's own laws they break, no matter how bad prison conditions get, no matter what! He also wants the world to know that he is a Christian.
When he rose in the House to introduce his bill he said, "The bill is simple -- it ends forever, the early release of violent felons and convicted drug dealers by judges who care more about the ACLU's prisoner rights wish list than about the Constitution, and the safety of our towns, communities and fellow citizens."
He isn't happy that under the threat of federal courts, states are being forced to prematurely release prisoners because of what activist judges call 'prison overcrowding.' And he said it just like that except he didn't call them prisoners, he called them convicts. And yes, he called judges that dare to speak their minds, activists.
Delay had more words about the judges, too. "The truth is no matter how Congress and state legislatures try to get tough on crime, we won't be effective until we deal with the judicial activism. The courts have undone almost every major anti-crime initiative passed by the legislative branch . . . There is an activist judge behind each of the most perverse failures of today's justice system."
It was sort of nice to hear the woes of the world thrown onto someone else for a change, but I haven't yet figured out if he has a bigger beef with prisoners, judges, or the American Civil Liberties Union. But you know, after learning about his office decor, I figure he's pretty much after everyone and anyone that doesn't see things his way. Did I mention that he was with the Christian Coalition and has a Focus on the Family?
When I run across the words of our some of our fearless leaders in Congress, I can't help but shudder. And I shuddered when Delay went on to say, "The Constitution of the United States gives us the power to take back our streets."
In this manner? By violating one law to fulfill a new one? Tell that to the citizens of New York City. Thousands of them are protesting daily at police headquarters for this very reason. They think that they have lost too much for the taking.
It was the end of the closing remarks that floored me though, after all that shuddering, too. Sometimes a person comes across what I call a hard-read and this was one of those. Delay said, and I imagine his voice was at a crescendo at this point, "I therefore call on Congress to consider legislative proposals that would reduce the jurisdiction of federal courts.' We should heed Justice Rehnquist's call-right here, right now!"
On another page of this issue you can read the true "call" of Justice Rehnquist. The true call he made was for Congress to give the federal courts a break and stop federalizing crime that could be handled at the state level.
It's sort of embarrassing isn't it? That a leader isn't paying attention-even when the Justice of the Supreme Court is talking. His closing remarks helped me figure out who he had the biggest beef with though, so rest easy convicts. It must be the Judge.
DeLay's Corporate Fundraising Investigated. Washington Post. 12 July 2004. 8 May 2005. <www.washingtonpost.com>.
In May 2001, Enron's top lobbyists in Washington advised the company chairman that then-House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) was pressing for a $100,000 contribution to his political action committee, in addition to the $250,000 the company had already pledged to the Republican Party that year.
DeLay requested that the new donation come from "a combination of corporate and personal money from Enron's executives," with the understanding that it would be partly spent on "the redistricting effort in Texas," said the e-mail to Kenneth L. Lay from lobbyists Rick Shapiro and Linda Robertson.
The e-mail, which surfaced in a subsequent federal probe of Houston-based Enron, is one of at least a dozen documents obtained by The Washington Post that show DeLay and his associates directed money from corporations and Washington lobbyists to Republican campaign coffers in Texas in 2001 and 2002 as part of a plan to redraw the state's congressional districts.
DeLay's fundraising efforts helped produce a stunning political success. Republicans took control of the Texas House for the first time in 130 years, Texas congressional districts were redrawn to send more Republican lawmakers to Washington, and DeLay -- now the House majority leader -- is more likely to retain his powerful post after the November election, according to political experts.
But DeLay and his colleagues also face serious legal challenges: Texas law bars corporate financing of state legislature campaigns, and a Texas criminal prosecutor is in the 20th month of digging through records of the fundraising, looking at possible violations of at least three statutes. A parallel lawsuit, also in the midst of discovery, is seeking $1.5 million in damages from DeLay's aides and one of his political action committees -- Texans for a Republican Majority (TRMPAC) -- on behalf of four defeated Democratic lawmakers.
DeLay has not been named as a target of the investigation. The prosecutor has said he is focused on the activities of political action committees linked to DeLay and the redistricting effort. But officials in the prosecutor's office say anyone involved in raising, collecting or spending the corporate money, who also knew of its intended use in Texas elections, is vulnerable.
Documents unearthed in the probe make clear that DeLay was central to creating and overseeing the fundraising. What the prosecutors are still assessing is who knew about the day-to-day operations of TRMPAC and how its money was used to benefit Texas House candidates.
Several weeks ago, DeLay hired two criminal defense attorneys to represent him in the probe. He previously created a fund for corporate donors to help him pay legal bills related to allegations of improper fundraising, and is now considering extending its reach to include the fees for these attorneys.
DeLay declined to comment for this article. Stuart Roy, his spokesman, said: "DeLay is doing everything moral, legal and ethical to increase the Republican majority and advance conservative ideas. He raised legal campaign money for effective political activity and that makes his critics enraged. Unfortunately, some Democrats are making an attempt to criminalize politics."
Cristen D. Feldman, the Texas lawyer who filed the suit, said in response, "I guess DeLay and his team forgot they were from Texas . . . [where] the prohibition against clandestine corporate cash is 100 years old."
Many corporate donors were explicitly told in TRMPAC letters that their donations were not "disclosable" in public records. But documents from several unrelated investigations offer an exceptional glimpse of how corporate money was able to influence state politics -- and also of DeLay's bold use of his network of corporate supporters to advance his agenda.
By investing as much as $2.5 million in corporate money in the 2002 election, TRMPAC and another group, the Texas Association of Business, were able to help elect 26 new Republican candidates to the Texas House. The new Republican majority then redrew the congressional district boundaries and, as a result, five Democrats are likely to lose in the Nov. 2 election, according to political experts.
This case "is only one piece of a much larger picture," said Ronnie Earle, the Travis County district attorney running the investigation. "And the larger picture is a blueprint of what is happening in the country, namely a saturation of the political process by large corporate interests with large amounts of money."
Earle, an elected Democrat who oversees the state's Public Integrity Unit, previously prosecuted four elected Republicans and 12 Democrats for corruption or election law violations. So far, he has issued about 100 subpoenas in this case, most of them secret.
8 May 2005. <www.kendrick.colgate.edu>.
The new year has brought with it a new feature to television screens, and I'm not talking about that cool new commercial for the Visa Checkcard with Bob Dole. The television industry has decided, after years of controversy and debate, to begin to regulate itself and devise a ratings system similar to the one currently in use by movie studios. Such a ratings system, which has been demanded for years by a number of family interest groups, involves networks voluntarily placing a small box in the corner of the screen for the first five or ten seconds of a program which displays that show's rating. This information will serve as a valuable tool for parents to effectively screen what their children may see in order to keep exposure to violence and adult themes to a minimum. While this ratings system is a nice start, it is definitely possible for more to be done. Among the improvements which could be made to the fledgling ratings system include a greater use of the system by cable networks and a more detailed description of the reason for a non-general audience rating, both of which could be brought about through federal involvement. The new television ratings system, combined with the advent of V-chip technology, which lets parents block out shows they feel are inappropriate for children, effectively avoids taking the form of outright censorship.
The debate over the content of television shows is not a new topic. Parents and family interest groups, among many others, have lamented for years over the explosion of violence and adult themes creeping into prime time television. Indeed, even cartoons are not immune, as anyone who has ever watched "Beavis and Butthead" will agree. However, a strong faction of this group favors and continues to support, despite the presence of a ratings system, increased regulation of the television industry, either be the industry itself or by the government. Such calls for increased regulation are well-intentioned, but dangerous to the fabric of America. Television regulation is one of those nasty First Amendment issues which never seem to disappear from America's front pages. While we may disapprove of television violence and demand change for the sake of our children, it is important that such massive regulation not be a viable option if freedom is also to be preserved. It is up to television networks to use common sense, and put inappropriate shows on in the late evening when it is not likely that children will see them. Government regulation, however, will result in nothing more than censorship and the suppression of free speech.
This is what makes the new ratings system and V-chip technology so successful. Both allow parents to make an individual decision to allow their children to watch a certain program without interfering with the choices of others. The ratings system is drawn from universal guidelines agreed upon by the major networks and classifies different television shows to an appropriate age bracket based on violent or adult content. In this manner, families will have greater peace of mind in the fact that they will now be able to enjoy television with a reduced fear of adult themes while individual Americans will continue to enjoy the freedom of choice which has stood as a cornerstone of our nation's government for over 200 years. The ratings system and V-chip technology are the best methods available to achieve the dual goals of family regulation of children's viewing habits and an avoidance of trampling the First Amendment.
While these new reforms in the television industry have great potential to be quite effective, it is obvious that much more can be done. For example, the current rules and regulations of the ratings system apply only to the major networks. Cable networks, which take up a greater percentage of America's viewing audience with each passing year, are still free to screen whatever they please. It will undoubtedly take government intervention to assist with this problem in the form of a law requiring that the ratings system be placed on cable shows, at least during prime time hours. In addition, a major flaw to the current system is the failure to provide any kind of information as to why a show received a particular mature rating. Networks like HBO already use a system in which the specific mature themes of a show, such as violence or sexual content, are mentioned on the screen for a few seconds prior to the show's beginning. Such a system on network television would assist parents in making a better-informed decision into the viewing habits of their children. While the current advances in television regulation are positive, greater steps must be taken to ensure a more quality viewing environment for informed parents and their children.
It is refreshing to finally see some action being taken independently by the television industry to regulate itself for the good of America's children. While it may be true that the television industry undertook regulation for no other reason than to avoid seemingly inevitable government censorship, it is obvious that such voluntary action avoided the grave danger of a major violation to the First Amendment. The new ratings system, combined with V-chip technology, has great potential to allow parents to make better informed decisions in the viewing habits of their children. With minor improvements, this new system will achieve its goals of creating a more family-friendly television environment while preserving this nation's cherished rights of freedom of expression and choice.
The Debate On the Future of Television. Communications in the Public Interest. 8 May 2005.
The Benton Foundation views free, over-the-air broadcast television as an important information service, crucial to an informed democracy, and a vital part of the emerging National Information Infrastructure. Benton offers this space to educate the public about what's at stake and to include citizens and noncommercial interests in the debate on the future of television. Benton's briefing, Broadcast Spectrum and the Debate on the Future of Television, is an introduction to the broadcast spectrum issues raised in the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and their possible affects on free, over-the-air television. The debate covers a range of issues including the proposed transition to Digital TV, broadcast time for political debate, children's educational programming, and public broadcasting.
Television is a powerful medium that reaches nearly every household in America. Powerful enough to do great things for the American people. It can be a tool to aid in the education our children. It can provide us with a medium for political debate. The new interactive and on-demand features can provide the information people want and need every day.
What's really at stake is whether TV will contribute to a better tomorrow for us all - in a way that meets commercial interests and the nation's public interest.
Indiana 103, New York 97. NBA. 13 November 2005. 8 May 2005. <www.sports.yahoo.com>.
Once again, the ailing and short-handed Indiana Pacers built a big lead. This time, they were able to hold off New York's furious comeback.
Jermaine O'Neal had 33 points, 12 rebounds and five blocked shots, Ron Artest marked his 25th birthday with 22 points and Stephen Jackson added 19 as the Pacers fought off fatigue and beat the Knicks 103-97 Saturday night.
``It's always hard to play the minutes we've been playing, but we don't have any choice,'' O'Neal said. ``Our focus is to win as many games as we need to win to get to the championship. We don't care who's on the court as long as we have five to eight guys dressing.''
It was Indiana's fourth game in five nights, and because of injuries the Pacers had only 10 players available and used just eight, with all five starters logging at least 38 minutes.
Once again, as they did in an overtime loss at Philadelphia the night before, the Pacers built a seemingly comfortable lead in the first half. This time, they stayed in front, but it wasn't easy.
A basket and free throw by Stephon Marbury cut Indiana's one-time 21-point lead to 10 late in the third quarter. The Pacers built it back to 83-67 going into the final period, but Marbury had 11 of his season-high 37 points in the fourth quarter, including a basket that pulled New York to 101-95 with under a half-minute to go.
Artest then iced the game with two free throws before Jerome Williams scored for New York at the buzzer.
``We can't make no excuses,'' Jackson said. ``We have our two all-stars (O'Neal and Artest) and we have enough guys to sub in and sub out, so we have to play. We can't really think about who we don't have.''
Reggie Miller, Jeff Foster and Anthony Johnson are on the injury list for Indiana, while Jonathan Bender, Fred Jones and Scot Pollard didn't play for the second straight game because of a variety of other ailments.
``With J.O. and Ron out there, physically able to play, there's no excuse why we shouldn't win,'' Jackson said. ``We're 5-2. We're happy with that, but we know there's a lot of room to improve, and we will.''
Nazr Mohammed added a season-high 20 points for the Knicks.
O'Neal, who had a career-high 39 points in the overtime loss at Philadelphia, scored 12 in the first quarter against the Knicks. He hit five straight baskets at one stretch, including one that gave the Pacers the lead for good at 19-17 midway through the period.
New York still trailed by just two, however, before a 3-pointer by James Jones at the buzzer gave Indiana a 37-32 first-quarter lead.
Artest scored seven points, including two baskets on goaltending calls, and New York missed its first eight shots during a 14-2 Indiana run that appeared to break the game open at the start of the second quarter. Indiana's biggest lead was 61-40 before the Knicks began their comeback.
``If we had folded, I would have been mad, but we got back in there and made some defensive adjustments,'' Knicks coach Lenny Wilkens said of the double-teaming of O'Neal. ``O'Neal has developed into a great offensive player, and if you let him get under the basket, we're in trouble. The focus was to meet him quicker, and in the second half we did a better job.''
The start of the game was delayed about 15 minutes because of a faulty shot clock on the east basket. The arena crew replaced the entire goal and officials extended the pregame warmups before tipoff. ... Indiana's 63 points in the first two periods matched its season high for one half, but that included the third and fourth quarters and two overtimes in the opener at Cleveland. ... Indiana has won eight straight at home against the Knicks. ... Marbury's 37 points gave him 12,005 for his career. ... The game was the first of a four-game road trip for the Knicks. ... The only subs for the Pacers were Jones, Eddie Gill and rookie David Harrison.
My Life So Far. The Hollywood Reporter. 14 April 2005. 8 May 2005. <www.hollywoodreporter.com>.
My Life So Far
By Gregory McNamee
Bottom line: Jane Fonda recounts a difficult life of art, politics and controversy in a fence-mending memoir.
By Jane Fonda (Random House, 620 pages, $26.95)
There's news in Jane Fonda's new memoir, "My Life So Far": news about emotional distance, betrayals, broken promises, eating disorders and breast implants.
There's news, too, in a careful apology: reflecting on the infamous photographs of her taken in 1972 seated at a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun, Fonda writes, "The buck stops here. If I was used, I allowed it to happen. It was my mistake, and I have paid and continue to pay a heavy price for it."
The apology is nuanced. Fonda does not for a moment disavow her opposition to the Vietnam War and her work in the antiwar movement, and those who think of her as "Hanoi Jane" -- a characterization, she writes, born of operatives inside the Nixon White House -- probably will not be swayed by her account of how that photograph came to be taken.
There is much more than a distant war in these pages, though. Fonda, for instance, writes affectingly of her mother's suicide and her father's arm's-length treatment of her and her brother Peter, who has wrestled with a demon or two himself. Indeed, Henry Fonda emerges less noble, and surely less likable, than his movie image; his irascibility in "On Golden Pond" was no act, Fonda reveals, and it had been well practiced for decades.
"I have often pored over shoeboxes full of family memorabilia looking for clues to my father's dark moods," Fonda writes. Concluding that a hidden familial history of depression was at work, she cites others who remembered Henry Fonda as brooding and sometimes frightening, including John Steinbeck, who called him "capable of sudden wild and dangerous violence, sharply critical of others but equally self-critical."
Jane Fonda, who clearly inherited that self-critical capacity, has enjoyed extraordinary success as an actor. She came fully into her own in the 1970s in films like "Coming Home" and carried a solid string of hits for the next decade, from the prescient "The China Syndrome" to "The Electric Horseman" and "9 to 5."
As her book goes on -- and it's a long book, though very well written and swiftly paced -- it seems evident that Fonda is less interested in her acting past than in other aspects of her life. Making movies was hard work, she lets on, and it got harder as the years rolled by. Readers interested more in her body of work than in her aerobic body might be a touch disappointed by her on-the-run remarks about such films as "Klute" and "Julia" and even "Cat Ballou."
Brief though they are, Fonda's anecdotes about her film work are telling. She remembers, with due irony, that her film debut was almost in the role of James Stewart's daughter in "The FBI Story," and she writes that her work in Roger Vadim's "Barbarella" marked a start "down a new path -- as a female impersonator." She gives Lee Marvin points for labor agitation, and her memories of Katharine Hepburn taking her through line readings during the filming of "On Golden Pond" have a nice edge to them, too.
In the place of film talk, there is much about personal growth, empowerment, redemption, self-esteem and other issues. "My life has been a series of gigantic leaps of faith, based almost always on intuition and emotion, not on calculation or ego -- or ideology," Fonda writes. The last leap of faith might be the most improbable: her turn to "the patriarchal, hierarchical structure of Christianity," for which she also offers a reasoned defense that won't earn her friends among the Christian right.
Fans of Fonda -- and magazine and newspaper polls back in the day showed her with a higher approval rating than most presidents -- will find new reasons to admire her in these pages. Those who dislike her, for whatever cause, likely will stay away from "My Life So Far." They'll be missing a thoughtful book.
The Wealth of Yet More Nations. New York Times:Book Review Desk. 1 May 2005. 8 May 2005. <www. query.nytimes.com>.
THE WORLD IS FLAT
A Brief History
of the Twenty-First Century.
By Thomas L. Friedman.
488 pp. Farrar, Straus & Giroux. $27.50.
OVER the past few years, the United States has been obsessed with the Middle East. The administration, the news media and the American people have all been focused almost exclusively on the region, and it has seemed that dealing with its problems would define the early decades of the 21st century. ''The war on terror is a struggle that will last for generations,'' Donald Rumsfeld is reported to have said to his associates after 9/11.
But could it be that we're focused on the wrong problem? The challenge of Islamic terrorism is real enough, but could it prove to be less durable than it once appeared? There are some signs to suggest this. The combined power of most governments of the world is proving to be a match for any terror group. In addition, several of the governments in the Middle East are inching toward modernizing and opening up their societies. This will be a long process but it is already draining some of the rage that undergirded Islamic extremism.
This doesn't mean that the Middle East will disappear off the map. Far from it. Terrorism remains a threat, and we will all continue to be fascinated by upheavals in Lebanon, events in Iran and reforms in Egypt. But ultimately these trends are unlikely to shape the world's future. The countries of the Middle East have been losers in the age of globalization, out of step in an age of free markets, free trade and democratic politics. The world's future -- the big picture -- is more likely to be shaped by the winners of this era. And if the United States thought it was difficult to deal with the losers, the winners present an even thornier set of challenges. This is the implication of the New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman's excellent new book, ''The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century.''
The metaphor of a flat world, used by Friedman to describe the next phase of globalization, is ingenious. It came to him after hearing an Indian software executive explain how the world's economic playing field was being leveled. For a variety of reasons, what economists call ''barriers to entry'' are being destroyed; today an individual or company anywhere can collaborate or compete globally. Bill Gates explains the meaning of this transformation best. Thirty years ago, he tells Friedman, if you had to choose between being born a genius in Mumbai or Shanghai and an average person in Poughkeepsie, you would have chosen Poughkeepsie because your chances of living a prosperous and fulfilled life were much greater there. ''Now,'' Gates says, ''I would rather be a genius born in China than an average guy born in Poughkeepsie.''
The book is done in Friedman's trademark style. You travel with him, meet his wife and kids, learn about his friends and sit in on his interviews. Some find this irritating. I think it works in making complicated ideas accessible. Another Indian entrepreneur, Jerry Rao, explained to Friedman why his accounting firm in Bangalore was able to prepare tax returns for Americans. (In 2005, an estimated 400,000 American I.R.S. returns were prepared in India.) ''Any activity where we can digitize and decompose the value chain, and move the work around, will get moved around. Some people will say, 'Yes, but you can't serve me a steak.' True, but I can take the reservation for your table sitting anywhere in the world,'' Rao says. He ended the interview by describing his next plan, which is to link up with an Israeli company that can transmit CAT scans via the Internet so that Americans can get a second opinion from an Indian or Israeli doctor, quickly and cheaply.
What created the flat world? Friedman stresses technological forces. Paradoxically, the dot-com bubble played a crucial role. Telecommunications companies like Global Crossing had hundreds of millions of dollars of cash -- given to them by gullible investors -- and they used it to pursue incredibly ambitious plans to ''wire the world,'' laying fiber-optic cable across the ocean floors, connecting Bangalore, Bangkok and Beijing to the advanced industrial countries. This excess supply of connectivity meant that the costs of phone calls, Internet connections and data transmission declined dramatically -- so dramatically that many of the companies that laid these cables went bankrupt. But the deed was done, the world was wired. Today it costs about as much to connect to Guangdong as it does New Jersey.
The next blow in this one-two punch was the dot-com bust. The stock market crash made companies everywhere cut spending. That meant they needed to look for ways to do what they were doing for less money. The solution: outsourcing. General Electric had led the way a decade earlier and by the late 1990's many large American companies were recognizing that Indian engineers could handle most technical jobs they needed done, at a tenth the cost. The preparations for Y2K, the millennium bug, gave a huge impetus to this shift since most Western companies needed armies of cheap software workers to recode their computers. Welcome to Bangalore.
A good bit of the book is taken up with a discussion of these technological forces and the way in which business has reacted and adapted to them. Friedman explains the importance of the development of ''work flow platforms,'' software that made it possible for all kinds of computer applications to connect and work together, which is what allowed seamless cooperation by people working anywhere. ''It is the creation of this platform, with these unique attributes, that is the truly important sustainable breakthrough that has made what you call the flattening of the world possible,'' Microsoft's chief technology officer, Craig J. Mundie, told Friedman.
Friedman has a flair for business reporting and finds amusing stories about Wal-Mart, UPS, Dell and JetBlue, among others, that relate to his basic theme. Did you know that when you order a burger at the drive-through McDonald's on Interstate 55 near Cape Girardeau, Mo., the person taking your order is at a call center 900 miles away in Colorado Springs? (He or she then zaps it back to that McDonald's and the order is ready a few minutes later as you drive around to the pickup window.) Or that when you call JetBlue for a reservation, you're talking to a housewife in Utah, who does the job part time? Or that when you ship your Toshiba laptop for repairs via UPS, it's actually UPS's guys in the ''funny brown shorts'' who do the fixing?
China and India loom large in Friedman's story because they are the two big countries benefiting most from the flat world. To take just one example, Wal-Mart alone last year imported $18 billion worth of goods from its 5,000 Chinese suppliers. (Friedman doesn't do the math, but this would mean that of Wal-Mart's 6,000 suppliers, 80 percent are in one country -- China.) The Indian case is less staggering and still mostly in services, though the trend is dramatically upward. But Friedman understands that China and India represent not just threats to the developed world, but also great opportunities. After all, the changes he is describing have the net effect of adding hundreds of millions of people -- consumers -- to the world economy. That is an unparalleled opportunity for every company and individual in the world.
Friedman quotes a Morgan Stanley study estimating that since the mid-1990's cheap imports from China have saved American consumers over $600 billion and probably saved American companies even more than that since they use Chinese-sourced parts in their production. And this is not all about cheap labor. Between 1995 and 2002, China's private sector has increased productivity at 17 percent annually -- a truly breathtaking pace.
Friedman describes his honest reaction to this new world while he's at one of India's great outsourcing companies, Infosys. He was standing, he says, ''at the gate observing this river of educated young people flowing in and out. . . . They all looked as if they had scored 1600 on their SAT's. . . . My mind just kept telling me, 'Ricardo is right, Ricardo is right.' . . . These Indian techies were doing what was their comparative advantage and then turning around and using their income to buy all the products from America that are our comparative advantage. . . . Both our countries would benefit. . . . But my eye kept . . . telling me something else: 'Oh, my God, there are just so many of them, and they all look so serious, so eager for work. And they just keep coming, wave after wave. How in the world can it possibly be good for my daughters and millions of other young Americans that these Indians can do the same jobs as they can for a fraction of the wages?' ''
He ends up, wisely, understanding that there's no way to stop the wave. You cannot switch off these forces except at great cost to your own economic well-being. Over the last century, those countries that tried to preserve their systems, jobs, culture or traditions by keeping the rest of the world out all stagnated. Those that opened themselves up to the world prospered. But that doesn't mean you can't do anything to prepare for this new competition and new world. Friedman spends a good chunk of the book outlining ways that America and Americans can place themselves in a position to do better.
People in advanced countries have to find ways to move up the value chain, to have special skills that create superior products for which they can charge extra. The UPS story is a classic example of this. Delivering goods doesn't have high margins, but repairing computers (and in effect managing a supply chain) does. In one of Friedman's classic anecdote-as-explanation shticks, he recounts that one of his best friends is an illustrator. The friend saw his business beginning to dry up as computers made routine illustrations easy to do, and he moved on to something new. He became an illustration consultant, helping clients conceive of what they want rather than simply executing a drawing. Friedman explains this in Friedman metaphors: the friend's work began as a chocolate sauce, was turned into a vanilla commodity, through upgraded skills became a special chocolate sauce again, and then had a cherry put on top. All clear?
Of course it won't be as easy as that, as Friedman knows. He points to the dramatic erosion of America's science and technology base, which has been masked in recent decades by another aspect of globalization. America now imports foreigners to do the scientific work that its citizens no longer want to do or even know how to do. Nearly one in five scientists and engineers in the United States is an immigrant, and 51 percent of doctorates in engineering go to foreigners. America's soaring health care costs are increasingly a burden in a global race, particularly since American industry is especially disadvantaged on this issue. An American carmaker pays about $6,000 per worker for health care. If it moves its factory up to Canada, where the government runs and pays for medical coverage, the company pays only $800. Most of Friedman's solutions to these kinds of problems are intelligent, neoliberal ways of using government in a market-friendly way to further the country's ability to compete in a flat world.
There are difficulties with the book. Once Friedman gets through explicating his main point, he throws in too many extras -- perhaps trying to make that chocolate sundae -- making the book seem slightly padded. The process of flattening that he is describing is in its infancy. India is still a poor third-world country, but if you read this book you would assume it is on the verge of becoming a global superstar. (Though as an Indian-American, I read Friedman and whisper the old Jewish saying, ''From your lips to God's ears.'') And while this book is not as powerful as Friedman's earlier ones -- it is, as the publisher notes, an ''update'' of ''The Lexus and the Olive Tree'' -- its fundamental insight is true and deeply important.
In explaining this insight and this new world, Friedman can sometimes sound like a technological determinist. And while he does acknowledge political factors, they get little space in the book, which gives it a lopsided feel. I would argue that one of the primary forces driving the flat world is actually the shifting attitudes and policies of governments around the world. From Brazil to South Africa to India, governments are becoming more market-friendly, accepting that the best way to cure poverty is to aim for high-growth policies. This change, more than any other, has unleashed the energy of the private sector. After all, India had hundreds of thousands of trained engineers in the 1970's, but they didn't produce growth. In the United States and Europe, deregulation policies spurred the competition that led to radical innovation. There is a chicken-and-egg problem, to be sure. Did government policies create the technological boom or vice versa? At least one can say that each furthered the other.
The largest political factor is, of course, the structure of global politics. The flat economic world has been created by an extremely unflat political world. The United States dominates the globe like no country since ancient Rome. It has been at the forefront, pushing for open markets, open trade and open politics. But the consequence of these policies will be to create a more nearly equal world, economically and politically. If China grows economically, at some point it will also gain political ambitions. If Brazil continues to surge, it will want to have a larger voice on the international stage. If India gains economic muscle, history suggests that it will also want the security of a stronger military. Friedman tells us that the economic relations between states will be a powerful deterrent to war, which is true if nations act sensibly. But as we have seen over the last three years, pride, honor and rage play a large part in global politics.
The ultimate challenge for America -- and for Americans -- is whether we are prepared for this flat world, economic and political. While hierarchies are being eroded and playing fields leveled as other countries and people rise in importance and ambition, are we conducting ourselves in a way that will succeed in this new atmosphere? Or will it turn out that, having globalized the world, the United States had forgotten to globalize itself?
Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking. Barnes and Nobles. 8 May 2005. <www. search.barnesandnoble.com>.
Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking
FROM THE PUBLISHER
How do we make decisions--good and bad--and why are some people so much better at it than others? That's the question Malcolm Gladwell asks and answers in the follow-up to his huge bestseller, The Tipping Point. Utilizing case studies as diverse as speed dating, pop music, and the shooting of Amadou Diallo, Gladwell reveals that what we think of as decisions made in the blink of an eye are much more complicated than assumed. Drawing on cutting-edge neuroscience and psychology, he shows how the difference between good decision-making and bad has nothing to do with how much information we can process quickly, but on the few particular details on which we focus. Leaping boldly from example to example, displaying all of the brilliance that made The Tipping Point a classic, Gladwell reveals how we can become better decision makers--in our homes, our offices, and in everyday life. The result is a book that is surprising and transforming. Never again will you think about thinking the same way.
Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking. Barnes and Nobles. 8 May 2005. <www. search.barnesandnoble.com>.
FROM THE CRITICS
Howard Gardner - The Washington Post
In Blink, Malcolm Gladwell, a former science and business reporter at The Washington Post who now writes for the New Yorker, offers his account of this sort of seemingly instantaneous judgment. Readers acquainted with Gladwell's articles and his 2000 bestseller The Tipping Point will have high anticipations for this volume; those expectations will be met. The book features the fascinating case studies, skilled interweavings of psychological experiments and explanations and unexpected connections among disparate phenomenon that are Gladwell's impressive trademark.
Best-selling author Gladwell (The Tipping Point) has a dazzling ability to find commonality in disparate fields of study. As he displays again in this entertaining and illuminating look at how we make snap judgments-about people's intentions, the authenticity of a work of art, even military strategy-he can parse for general readers the intricacies of fascinating but little-known fields like professional food tasting (why does Coke taste different from Pepsi?). Gladwell's conclusion, after studying how people make instant decisions in a wide range of fields from psychology to police work, is that we can make better instant judgments by training our mind and senses to focus on the most relevant facts-and that less input (as long as it's the right input) is better than more. Perhaps the most stunning example he gives of this counterintuitive truth is the most expensive war game ever conducted by the Pentagon, in which a wily marine officer, playing "a rogue military commander" in the Persian Gulf and unencumbered by hierarchy, bureaucracy and too much technology, humiliated American forces whose chiefs were bogged down in matrixes, systems for decision making and information overload. But if one sets aside Gladwell's dazzle, some questions and apparent inconsistencies emerge. If doctors are given an algorithm, or formula, in which only four facts are needed to determine if a patient is having a heart attack, is that really educating the doctor's decision-making ability-or is it taking the decision out of the doctor's hands altogether and handing it over to the algorithm? Still, each case study is satisfying, and Gladwell imparts his own evident pleasure in delving into a wide range of fields and seeking an underlying truth. Agent, Tina Bennett. (Jan. 13) Forecast: A 25-city tour (including several university towns) should introduce Gladwell to new readers and help sell out the 200,000-copy first printing. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Journalist Gladwell (The Tipping Point) examines the process of snap decision making. Contrary to the model of a rational process involving extensive information gathering and rational analysis, most decisions are made instantaneously and unconsciously. This works well for us much of the time because we learn to "thin-slice"-that is, to ignore extraneous input and concentrate on one or two cues. Sometimes, we don't even consciously know what these cues are, as in Gladwell's anecdote about a tennis coach who can predict when a player is going to make a rare sort of error but doesn't know how he knows. The book also explores how this process can go horribly wrong, as in the Amadou Diallo shooting. Gladwell gets the science facts right and has the journalistic skills to make them utterly engrossing. A big promo campaign is planned; for once a best seller will be more than worthy. Essential for all libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 9/15/04.]-Mary Ann Hughes, Neill P.L., Pullman, WA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
We need to place more trust in our "thin-slicer"-our capacity to make instant judgments-but we also need to sharpen its edge more keenly with experience and education. Gladwell's second entry into the aren't-our-brains-amazing genre (The Tipping Point, 2000) has an Obi-Wan Kenobi flavor, a "trust-your-feelings-Luke" antirationalism that attempts, in some ways, to deconstruct the Force. The author's great strength lies in his stories, and here he crafts a number of engaging ones: an account of art experts fooled by a fake; a summary of how a psychologist, looking at an hourlong video of a married couple conversing, can predict with 95% accuracy if they will divorce; an unnerving narrative about the Millennium Challenge, a war game in which a maverick commander deals a devastating blow to the bean-counting rule-followers on the team that was supposed to win. There are stories of a rock star fighting the odds, of cops shooting an innocent man who looked suspicious, of Coca-Cola making a big marketing mistake. We learn about the Aeron chair, All in the Family, Lee at Chancellorsville. (Unconventional people sometimes surprise.) We ponder the odd political rise of Warren G. Harding. We have a power lunch with some professional food-tasters-the author quips that it was like cello-shopping with Yo-Yo Ma. We chat with a car-selling superstar. Gladwell also rediscovers something Poe described in "The Haunted Palace": our eyes and our faces are windows to the soul. He tells us that the autistic are unable to decode or even notice the facial information of others. All these stories are nicely written and most inform and entertain at the same time, but they don't add up to anything terribly profound,despite the author's sometimes Skywalker-ish enthusiasm. Brisk, impressively done narratives that should sell very well indeed, particularly to Gladwell's already well-established fan base. Author tour
Freakonomics : a rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything. Amazon. 8 May 2005. <www.amazon.com>.
Economics is not widely considered to be one of the sexier sciences. The annual Nobel Prize winner in that field never receives as much publicity as his or her compatriots in peace, literature, or physics. But if such slights are based on the notion that economics is dull, or that economists are concerned only with finance itself, Steven D. Levitt will change some minds. In Freakonomics (written with Stephen J. Dubner), Levitt argues that many apparent mysteries of everyday life don't need to be so mysterious: they could be illuminated and made even more fascinating by asking the right questions and drawing connections. For example, Levitt traces the drop in violent crime rates to a drop in violent criminals and, digging further, to the Roe v. Wade decision that preempted the existence of some people who would be born to poverty and hardship. Elsewhere, by analyzing data gathered from inner-city Chicago drug-dealing gangs, Levitt outlines a corporate structure much like McDonald's, where the top bosses make great money while scores of underlings make something below minimum wage. And in a section that may alarm or relieve worried parents, Levitt argues that parenting methods don't really matter much and that a backyard swimming pool is much more dangerous than a gun. These enlightening chapters are separated by effusive passages from Dubner's 2003 profile of Levitt in The New York Times Magazine, which led to the book being written. In a book filled with bold logic, such back-patting veers Freakonomics, however briefly, away from what Levitt actually has to say. Although maybe there's a good economic reason for that too, and we're just not getting it yet. --John Moe
On Bullshit. Amazon. 8 May 2005. <www.amazon.com>.
"One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit," Harry G. Frankfurt writes, in what must surely be the most eyebrow-raising opener in modern philosophical prose. "Everyone knows this. Each of us contributes his share. But we tend to take the situation for granted." This compact little book, as pungent as the phenomenon it explores, attempts to articulate a theory of this contemporary scourge--what it is, what it does, and why there's so much of it. The result is entertaining and enlightening in almost equal measure. It can't be denied; part of the book's charm is the puerile pleasure of reading classic academic discourse punctuated at regular intervals by the word "bullshit." More pertinent is Frankfurt's focus on intentions--the practice of bullshit, rather than its end result. Bullshitting, as he notes, is not exactly lying, and bullshit remains bullshit whether it's true or false. The difference lies in the bullshitter's complete disregard for whether what he's saying corresponds to facts in the physical world: he "does not reject the authority of the truth, as the liar does, and oppose himself to it. He pays no attention to it at all. By virtue of this, bullshit is a greater enemy of the truth than lies are."
This may sound all too familiar to those of use who still live in the "reality-based community" and must deal with a world convulsed by those who do not. But Frankfurt leaves such political implications to his readers. Instead, he points to one source of bullshit's unprecedented expansion in recent years, the postmodern skepticism of objective truth in favor of sincerity, or as he defines it, staying true to subjective experience. But what makes us think that anything in our nature is more stable or inherent than what lies outside it? Thus, Frankfurt concludes, with an observation as tiny and perfect as the rest of this exquisite book, "sincerity itself is bullshit." --Mary Park
Three Nights in August: Strategy, Heartbreak, and Joy: Inside the Mind of a Manager. Barnes and Nobles. 8 May 2005. <www.barnesandnobles.com>.
FROM THE PUBLISHER
"A Pulitzer Prize-winning author captures baseball's strategic and emotional essences through a point-blank account of one three-game series viewed through the keen eyes of legendary manager Tony La Russa. Drawing on unmatched access to a manager and his team, Buzz Bissinger brings the same revelatory intimacy to major league baseball that he did to high school football in his classic bestseller, Friday Night Lights." Three Nights in August shows thrillingly that human nature - not statistics - can often dictate the outcome of a ball game. We watch from the dugout as the St. Louis Cardinals battle their archrivals, the Chicago Cubs, for first place, and we uncover delicious surprises about the psychology of the clutch, the eccentricities of pitchers, the rise of video, and the complex art of retaliation when a batter is hit by a pitch. Through the lens of these games, Bissinger examines the dramatic changes that have overtaken baseball: from the decline of base stealing to the difficulty of motivating players to the rise of steroid use. More tellingly, he distills from these twenty-seven innings baseball's constants - its tactical nuances, its emotional pull.
FROM THE CRITICS
John Grisham - The New York Times
Three Nights in August will be devoured by hard-core strategists who enjoy nothing more than arguing for hours over why a hit-and-run was not called. Yet it is immediately accessible to any fan curious about the more complicated elements of the game. This is because Bissinger does much more than simply dissect 27 innings of baseball. He has the wonderful ability to stop the action in midpitch to talk about the people involved … Many of the book's compelling off-the-field digressions are about La Russa: his long and colorful career -- his teams have won four pennants and one World Series -- his love of the game and its history and traditions, his brilliance and self-doubt, his daily challenges in handling the fragile egos of his rich young players. At times, the frustrations with the modern game -- free agency, spoiled players, steroids, multiyear contracts, agents -- seem overwhelming.
Bissinger eschews the usual method of writing about baseball in the context of a season or a career, choosing instead to dissect the game by carefully watching one three-game series between the Cardinals and Cubs in late 2003. The Pulitzer-winning journalist and author of Friday Night Lights had unprecedented access to Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, as well as his staff and team, and he used that entr e to pick La Russa's formidable baseball brain about everything from how he assembles a lineup to why he uses certain relievers. As the series unfolds, Bissinger reveals La Russa's history and personality, conveying the manager's intensity and his compulsive need to be prepared for any situation that might arise during " `the war' of each at-bat." Typical characters-the gamer, the natural, the headcase, the crafty old timer-are present, but Bissinger gives new life to their familiar stories with his insider's view and cheeky descriptions (e.g., "Martinez's response to pressure has been like a 45-rpm record, a timeless hit on one side, and the flip side maybe best forgotten"). Bissinger analyzes each team's pitch-by-pitch strategy and gets the dirt on numerous enduring baseball questions: What does it feel like to have to close your first game in Yankee Stadium? Who knew about players using steroids before the current scandal hit? Do managers tell their pitchers to throw at hitters? Mixing classic baseball stories with little-known details and an exclusive perspective, this work should appeal to any baseball fan. Agent, David Gernert. (Apr. 5) Forecast: La Russa will make appearances tied in to the book's promo, and there will be a press conference for the book at spring training. Both should help this book rise to the top of this season's baseball book flood. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Baseball writing at its best should not be merely about championship games and record-setting feats. Bissinger (Friday Night Lights) takes in a three-game series between the rival Cubs and Cardinals, with enviable access to the baseball mind of St. Louis manager Tony LaRussa, once a wonder boy among the generation of old-style "gut" managers and now an elder statesman to whiz-kid sabermatricians. For all fans of Bissinger's work and of pure baseball. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 12/04.] Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Is baseball a game? Not by this first-rate account of a battle of titans, in which a pampered star player insists that he's a "performer" and the manager-hero employs the strategic skills of a warlord. St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, writes Vanity Fair contributing editor Bissinger, is "a baseball man" who proudly owns the appellation even though it "has become increasingly pejorative today because of the very stodginess it suggests." There's nothing stodgy about La Russa, even though he has revealed some very old-fashioned leanings against the use of performance-enhancing steroids and for winning performances by free agents who play their own stats-racking games against the better interests of the team. Bissinger's account ranges widely over La Russa's four decades in baseball: He started off as a player but, realizing he wasn't star material, began to badger his managers to tell him their secrets and took up the trade while still in his 20s. The bulk of his story, though, is devoted to a three-game series between the Cards and their nemesis, the Chicago Cubs, in August 2003, as the Cubs were racing their way to a long-awaited bid for the national championship. Bissinger takes care to analyze La Russa's decisions as they're being made on the field, drawing on La Russa's storied command of baseball statistics and history and his uncanny ability to match batters to pitchers, figure out opposing managers' signals, and such. Throughout, La Russa takes on the lonely countenance of a knight errant battling forces beyond his control, especially the unwillingness of players to exert themselves; as Bissinger writes, "La Russa calculates that, for today's players, winning is 'third orfourth on their list behind making money and having security and all that other BS.' "Even so, La Russa turns up results, as readers will discover-and, of course, he took the Cards to the World Series in 2004. A real treat for scholarly baseball fans, and a better management book than most on the business shelves.
Liberalism is a Mental Disorder. Barnes and Nobles. 8 May 2005. <www.barnesandnobles.com>.
FROM THE PUBLISHER
In his first two books, radio sensation Michael Savage offered a blistering attack on the erosion of America's values. Now, in the third installment of his bold and biting trilogy, he offers provocative yet practical ways to reclaim our social, political, and cultural integrity. Through a compelling narrative of current trends and events, Savage chronicles the continued assault on the sacred pillars of American life (the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Ten Commandments, the Sanctity of Marriage) by the High Priests of Ultra-Liberalism and provides the remedy for freedom-loving Americans to effectively medicate the mental disease of modern liberalism and restore America's former brilliance. In each chapter, the Savage Spotlight of Truth casts its brilliant light on the tactics used by liberals to spread their leftist agenda and follows it with a dose of specific actions, arguments, and activism that the reader can ingest to counter the radical left. After all, as Savage said in The Savage Nation, America's best days are in front of her, if we have the guts to face the truth and apply ourselves to repairing the foundation upon which this blessed nation was formed.
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TJ PIERCE, A reviewer, May 6, 2005,
America's survival is at stake--nothing less
Think Michael Savage is just a bellicose loudmouth ranting on the airwaves? Think again. Were sufficient numbers of people to read this slim volume, it would change thinking in this country--for the better--like no other book since Uncle Tom's Cabin. Liberals are people who have lost their basic instinct for survival and who are overly impressed with their own 'goodness,' and they are undermining our country by wholeheartedly participating in the degradation of its borders, language, and culture. They have a mental disorder and have become the enemy within. Savage has their number and he has the solution. Patriotic Americans have to rise up and stop them before they completely undermine the foundations of this society. The book is written the way Savage talks. He pulls no punches, and liberal buzzwords such as 'diversity,' 'sensitivity,' and 'understanding' are elongated and italicized (sensitiiiiiivity) to identify them as PC propaganda and express his contempt for such mushheaded thinking. Savage's arguments do not arise from fanciful fears; rather, they are grounded in hard facts and constructed with unassailable logic. Read the book and arm your mind so that we can defeat the creeps putting in the long hours to end our way of life.
A reviewer (firstname.lastname@example.org), conservative conservationist, April 25, 2005,
Dr. Savage exposes the issues with brilliant clarity. What sets him apart from the rest of the pack, liberal or conservative, is the fact that he furnishes workable solutions. Listen to Michael Savage, you will hear the truth, and the truth will set you free.
Also recommended: Shut Up & Sing How To Talk to a Liberal (If you must)
A reviewer, April 20, 2005,
Factual, well-researched and well-written
This is an excellent book; it's written so well, that you can probably finish it in a weekend (you just can't put it down). It opens your eyes to a lot of things and makes you think for yourself as opposed to reading the newspaper headlines or thinking what SFChronicle wants you to think.
Also recommended: Enemy Within.
Jay Fancher, A reviewer, April 20, 2005,
Savage Strikes Back
AS ALWAYS MICHAEL SAVAGE DELIVERS. FILLED WITH TODAYS HOTTEST ISSUES, MICHAEL EDUCATES THE MASSES WITH THE SAVAGE TRUTH AS ONLY HE CAN DO.
Also recommended: DELIVER US FROM EVIL BY SEAN HANNITY, MEN IN BLACK BY MARK LEVIN AND PERSECUTION BY DAVID LIMBUAGH
Jared (Jared@salvos.com), college student, April 19, 2005,
Five Stars for Savage!
Dr. Savage offers the blunt truth about the condition of America's politicians and judges. Our nation is in a time of crisis. We have a record trade deficit, millions of illegal aliens crossing the border each year, tyranical judges, and a vocal minority that is following Hitler's quote, 'If you tell a lie loud enough and long enough the people will believe it.' The silent majority must speak out if our nation is to survive. Read Savage's book to find out why. You won't regret it.
Book review: One Soldier's Story: A Memoir. Yahoo. 23 April 2005. 8 May 2005. <www. story.news.yahoo.com>.
But well before his failed 1996 U.S. presidential run and his decades as an upstanding statesman, on April 14, 1945, he was army 2nd Lieut. Dole, paralysed and near death in the Italian Alps. As the 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War is commemorated, Dole recounts the day that changed his life in One Soldier's Story.
Using letters written home as a roadmap, Dole's emotional memoir of his recovery from a crippling battle wound chronicles the life of a broke soda jerk turned college frat boy, then soldier turned public servant.
Dole could have walked down the Nazi's heavily guarded Hill 913 unscathed if a shell hadn't shredded his shoulder and damaged his spine. Instead of Senator Dole he might have become Dr. Dole, a career path he had envisioned for much of his life.
In his memoir, he often questions why events occurred the way they did. Why was he only wounded, while nearly 100 of his comrades died on that day? Why did he not die during his recovery when his temperature rose dangerously high, forcing the removal of a kidney?
"It's taken me 60 years to come to grips with the toughest questions of life," Dole writes. "And in some small way, this book is my answer."
At 81, Dole appears to hold back little. He shares fraternity pranks, moneymaking schemes and the painful breakup with his college sweetheart.
He's also candid about his first wife, Phyllis Holden, who played a key role in his physical recovery.
His sombre story is occasionally told with the dry humour some know him for.
While Dole plots his story with the kind of well-crafted suspense one might expect from a veteran writer, his technique in sharing his memoir is fitting for a good ol' boy from Russell, Kan. The style is simplistic and packed with folksy storytelling elements.
"If you've ever had your arm or leg fall asleep . . . you know that weird funny feeling. Now, imagine that your entire body fell asleep for several weeks," Dole writes to describe how he felt when he was paralysed from the neck down.
It's quite easy to forget that the young man maturing from page to page is now a well-known politician, primarily because there's little focus on Dole's later career. Instead, he's just Bob, a wide-eyed young man with a strong work ethic - an athlete and the first in his family to attend college.
"Dear Folks" begins many of his letters, and one written from the University of Kansas reads, "I hated to send all this laundry home, but it costs too much."
He's a typical young man from what some have called the "greatest generation," from a time when victory gardens and rationing were the norm.
Dole writes that, in essence, his story is a variation of those of thousands of other men and women to whom he dedicated his book - the servicemen, mothers and fathers who lived through the war that kept the world safe for democracy.
Garlic and Sapphires : The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise. Not Alone. 8 May 2005. <www.enotalone.com>.
I ran right out and bought all her other titles, May 08 2005
As a foodie and a wine lover, as well as a person who loves New York, this book was like being in heaven at the same time as being a voyuer. I often go to the "starred" restaurants and have my own opinion not only on the food but on how I was treated as a normal everyday person. Having a food critic do the same in costume and actually rate the restaurant based on this makes me want to give her a standing ovation. Hopefully, restaurants around the world have learned something from her and her very equitable way of evaluating restaurants. Ruth writes so very well and entertainly, and you are torn from your own reality into her world of costumes and intrigue. I highly recommend her books if you like food, wine and real life New York restaurants. It may change where you decide to spend your hard earned dollars next time you go out to eat.
Funny and touching memoir of a restaurant critic, May 03 2005
If you're into food and New York you will like this book. Ruth Reichl is funny in this memoir about her times as the New York Times restaurant critic. One of the rules of all serious restaurant critics is to go anonymous, so Ruth describes in her book not only the desguises she wore but the personalities she created for the different characters she became: Brenda, Emily, and even her own mother. Ruth transformed herself not only physically but mentally, sometimes confusing her own self. At the end of the book she discovers she needs to move on, and go back to the kitchen instead of the dining room. Great read, I personally loved this book.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Delicious memory, April 29 2005
The third memoir Reichl has written continues with the common theme that not everything is as it seems at a glance. Here she tells of her years at the New York Times as their restaurant critic.(a position which many might envy) She spent so much time hiding behind many disguises and attempting to convince many that there wasn't more than meets the eye; everyone from the servers of the restaurants she was eating in to herself who faced a considerable onslaught of criticism from readers when she became their restaurant reviewer. The sweetest moments of the book have to do with Reichl and her son Nick who was quite small when she got the job and her own recollection significant moments with food and restaurants from her childhood. She had returned to where she had grown up and she was being re-introduced to old memories and even to her Mother who had past away. Another thing I really liked in the book was a few recipes that she had mentioned in passing from her other books were finally published in this one. This volume contains recipes and some of her restaurant reviews as well so it adds another element to the writing. You are given some subtext when she tells what was going on at the time and so there are many layers to the writing and hidden emotions.
Reichl has yet to disappoint me with her memoirs but this book has a much happier tone in comparison to the last one. It isn't until the end that there is considerable sadness but it ends with hope and possibility.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful:
Dress up, eat up, write up, April 26 2005
It's one thing to hold the coveted job of restaurant critic for the New York Times but it's an entirely different matter when that person can deliver such a wonderfully breezy book about her experiences. Ruth Reichl has done just that in a style that is as warm, informative and delicious as the best restaurants she has reviewed.
In "Garlic and Sapphires" the author invites you into her world so intimately that you feel you are sharing each and every meal with her. It would probably have been enough if Ruth had simply given us a compilation of her entire collected reviews because she writes so well in that vein, but the joy of this particular offering includes a cast of characters who are not from central casting. While she manages to keep herself in the limelight, as she should, she surrounds herself with willing (and sometimes unwilling) cohorts in her attempts to review restaurants through her many disguises and personalities. Her usually understanding husband, Michael, her precocious son Nicky, her friend and sometimes mentor Carol, and her close buddy Claudia all add to her support as the author becomes Miriam, Chloe, Brenda, Betty and Emily. A male critic could never have gotten away with what Ruth pulls off! It is a surprise to both the author and the reader that her dinner guests often become angry with her because she plays the roles of her assumed identities with such panache that they almost beg her to return to her own self.
In one of the most alluring chapters, Ruth relates how she meets a total stranger, Dan Green, who ends up dining with her at Lespinasse. Keeping her secret, she spends an evening with him wondering what he will think of the review when he reads it. In another hilarious chapter she endures an evening with the "food warrior" at Windows of the World. Who wouldn't have wanted to be at the next table for that encounter?
Through it all, Ruth Reichl keeps an eye on herself. She is her own best and worst critic, often worrying about the
legitimacy of her characters. In the end she simply reverts back to Ruth. As the book nears its close, Ruth speaks of her friend Carol's final illness and her own (ultimate) decision to leave the Times, a poignant reflection by the author. At this moment, knowing the book is about to be finished, I am reminded of that other moment when you've just finished an extraordinary meal and reluctantly acknowledge it's time to go. I highly recommend "Garlic and Sapphires".
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful:
Fighting Traditions in the Competitive Fine Dining World, April 22 2005
Gourmet magazine's editor-in-chief Ruth Reichl provides a sometimes funny and often insightful account of her days back in the nineties as the New York Times food critic, certainly one of the most influential culinary posts in the world. She obviously did not take this responsibility lightly judging from the amount of effort she went through to disguise herself in restaurants she had to review in order to avoid preferential treatment. In fact, one of her more intriguing insights is how a fine dining experience can and should be the great economic leveler, and her disguises would often reflect a lower socioeconomic status or an out-of-place temperament, including pretending to be her own mother. No matter whom you are, according to Reichl, you can walk in and place your credit card on the bill tray, and for however long you want to be at a formal restaurant, you can be anyone you want to be. Like a paid fantasy come true with no emotional repercussions, one of the big reasons people go out to eat is to have that experience of being glamorous and wealthy. Reichl understands this concept clearly, and she is enthusiastic about helping people appreciate what they're going to experience in the way that any good film, art or dance critics can.
Her zeal can be infectious, especially as she breaks with tradition and explores ethnic food in the outer boroughs of New York with creative abandon. Her approach apparently did come at a price as she has made enemies at the Times and among those who had come to expect four-star ratings from the paper. When she describes her courage in facing her adversaries head-on, Reichl can come across as smug and sometimes cloying in her attempts to deflate egos, even though she offsets those comments with discourses on colleagues she truly does love and respect. Moreover, she fluently displays a breadth of knowledge about the overall trends in the American culinary movement of the last quarter century. The author doesn't quite have the been-there-done-that tone of Anthony Boudrain in his books, "Kitchen Confidential" and "A Cook's Tour", nor does she have the idiosyncratic wit of Alan Richman in his eclectic food travel tome, "Fork It Over". But Reichl's book does lend a uniquely personal perspective, is it is as much about politics at the New York Times as it is about food, an almost professional survival manual that would serve both present-day foodies and future food critics equally well.
Book review: 'Assassination Vacation,' by Sarah Vowell. Palm Beach Post Entertainment. 10 April 2005. 8 May 2005. <www.palmbeachpost.com>.
Everybody's caught on to Sarah Vowell now. She's a continuing presence on NPR, she writes for all the upscale print and online magazines and she even went mainstream when she did the voice of the disaffected teenage daughter in The Incredibles.
A few years ago when I reviewed her book The Partly Cloudy Patriot, she was still languishing in her native Montana, but she's gotten out of there and gone to New York, and not a moment too soon.
Vowell's ironic attitude is close to that of P.J. O'Rourke, but the resemblance ends there. O'Rourke is the personification of Ruling Class humor, traveling the world only to find pervasive physical and intellectual squalor. Nobody can tell him anything, the only appropriate response to Europe and Asia is scorn, and there's no place like home, Auntie Em.
Then why leave the satellite dish?
Vowell is authentically interested in other people, and in what they have to tell us. Even dead people. One of the things that makes Assassination Vacation (a big wet kiss to whoever thought of the title) so rewarding is that it's a book in love with history.
Assassination Vacation is essentially about Vowell's immersion in the deaths of three Republican presidents — Lincoln, Garfield and McKinley, the latter two relegated to history's dustbin, the former one of the glories of the Republic. (All murdered presidents are martyrs, but not all martyrs are remembered.)
She basically blows off McKinley because he was an obedient messenger of the contemporary oligarchy, and not that interesting.
But she finds unexpected depths in Garfield, a good man who had the misfortune to get shot before he could do much of anything.
"If there's a recurring theme in Garfield's diaries," writes Vowell, "it's this: I'd rather be reading."
If Garfield wasn't pertubed about why his shipment of a 26-volume edition of Goethe was delayed, he was telling the graduating class of Hiram — his alma mater — that the best thing they could do was protect their leisure, which he called "your gold... your wealth... your treasure."
"The only thing stopping this address from turning into a slacker parable is the absence of the word 'dude.' "
Vowell clambers all over Illinois and Maryland checking out Lincoln and John Wilkes Booth sites. She tracks a piece of Booth's tissue down to the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia, checks out Lincoln's skull fragments and the bullet that killed him in the Army Medical Museum on the grounds of Walter Reed Hospital. (You might say she embraces her inner morbidity.)
Along the way she discovers that Mary Surratt's boardinghouse is now a Chinese restaurant called Wok & Roll, and that Lewis Powell, one of the Lincoln conspirators, is buried outside Orlando, mainly because he was from Florida and fought in the 2nd Florida Infantry in the Civil War.
She goes to the house of Dr. Samuel Mudd and thereby becomes convinced of his complicity in the Lincoln assassination. Armed with a road atlas, two maps of Booth's route, an article from the Washington Post travel section and six printouts from MapQuest, she still gets hopelessly lost.
"I don't see how Booth and [David] Herold, who were horseback riding under the influence of the whiskey they acquired at the Surratt Tavern, could have found Mudd's house in the middle of the night if they didn't know exactly where they were going, and whom they could trust."
Vowell being Vowell, there are also side-trip disquisitions on Peter Gallagher's eyebrows, and a brief but telling analysis of how the party of Lincoln became the party of Strom Thurmond.
She finds Maryland.... strange. When she stops at a family-style restaurant where the vegetable of the day is succotash, she notes that, "It will only remind you of your family if your mom chain-smoked menthols."
And there's a fascinating, free-associative section about her desire to go back in time and kill her great-great-grandfather, who rode with Quantrill and helped decimate Lawrence, Kan.
Mainly, Vowell is just smart, and smart is always a pleasure to read: "[Presidents] are people who have the gall to believe they can fix us — us and our deficit, our fossil fuels, our racism, poverty, our potholes and public schools. The egomania required to be president or a presidential assassin makes the two types brothers of sorts. Presidents and presidential assassins are like Las Vegas and Salt Lake City that way. Even though one city is all about sin and the other is all about salvation, they are identical, one-dimensional company towns built up out of the desert by the sheer will of true believers."
I like Sarah Vowell because she makes me laugh — "Going to Ford's Theater to watch the play is like going to Hooters for the food" — but I also like her because beneath her language and point of view, there's a passionate political heart.