Monday, March 3, 2008

Times Roundup, March 1-3, 2008

“How do you prove you’re a Jew?”

A question my family was recently discussing regarding the Birthright Israel trip. I haven’t read the article yet (one of these days…), but I know it’s way more serious than what we were wondering. Still, a good question...

In expanding my repertoire of Times columnists, reading William Kristol’s latest, another elegy on William F. Buckley, I was struck by the sheer number of SAT-worthy words and phrases. Mordantly! Recrudescence! Lodestar! Immanentize the Eschaton! Coincidence? Is this how he really writes? We’ll see. I’m certainly getting an education.

This Scrabulous thing certainly has legs. I don’t know anyone who plays it (I’ve only seen it once on a profile); it was the media that alerted me to its popularity. I agree that nowadays everybody’s gotta adjust to the web; it completely transforms a business. Digital media—expanding beyond the internet, into phones, television and the like—is how a business survives. I understand where Hasbro and Mattel are coming from, feeling assaulted, but for tech-savvy people, that’s not how it works. Money quote:

Many Scrabulous fans, some of whom say they bought the board game for the first time after playing the online version on Facebook, call their approach heavy-handed and out of touch. […] People believe it to be in the public domain, like chess,” Mr. Williams said. “The idea that Scrabble belongs to a corporation is something that people don’t or are unwilling to accept.”
Nowadays we're so used to "owning" things that the idea of paying for certain things--like downloaded music--seems stupid. My brother doesn't see the point in buying CDs if you can just as easily burn them as I feel that every feature article should be available online in full text. It's similar in that for some people it's hard to believe that happy birthday is actually copyrighted. This feeling is only going to get worse, because as things become porous and easily available, it's natural that we feel entitled to it. Another damnation for our generation?

Megan Meier was mentioned in an article discussing suicide and the blogosphere, how harmful criticisms can explode, and ruin lives. This time we’re not dealing with a teenager. More to come.

While I’m not sure how I feel about Gail Collins (other than I’m glad the Times has another female op-ed columnist), I’ve begun to get used to her flippant humor. She’s not biting or punny like Maureen Dowd; she favors a Q-and-A style that’s been used by David Brooks before, but her answers are both irreverent and concise.

I also love the idea of a secular Sabbath, something I’ve done on occasion, whenever I feel my life is being overtaken by Facebook or AIM. There is a freedom to being unreachable, and we’ve gotten to the point where we look at those who reject these technological accoutrements as weirdoes. How do they do it? How do they stand being in their own fluid life, unbeholden to anybody? How do they stand not wondering, unconcerned about what other people are doing?!?!

Tomorrow are the Texas, Ohio, Rhode Island and Vermont primaries. It's all on Clinton now. Win or lose, we know it's gonna be one hell of an exciting day. Frankly--and I know many people label me a Clinton apologist--if she loses tomorrow she should not fight for the nomination. It'll be tainted because she didn't win it fairly, and fighting for Michigan and Florida delegates when she signed an agreement saying they were out of bounds as punishment for being greedy and moving their primaries up is only going to make her look worse, not better. Going full-throttle ruthless isn't going to help her in the least; it'll just turn off a lot of people.

I've been thinking about Hillary over the past couple of weeks. I remember in 2000 I was against her Senate run precisely because she wasn't truly from New York; like rich people with political persuasions, she could effectively pick a geographic location, plunker down and run for office. Not cool. I was disappointed that Rick Lazio lost by so much. So how in the intervening years had I forgotten this? Yet I've also taken umbrage by those who say that she just relied on her husband, that she could've run on her own. We'll never know. I used to be firmly in that camp, of "you don't need someone's coattails to ride on, do it yourself," and I was very passionate about that. But then one day I went, so what? So what if she used Bill? He undoubtedly used her. People use each other for mutual gain all the time; it's a part of friendship, whether we admit to it or not. Besides, it's long been known in history that women, to get what they wanted, to have any sort of say or power, needed men to do so and often overtook their positions when they were unable to serve. That sounds like what everyone fears here, that Hillary's just extending Bill's run in office. Unfortunately for her, she'll never escape who she is or her past. I'm still not sure how I stand on this subject of women using men to get the position they want. I usually think it manipulative (there tends to be no character I hate more than a manipulative bitch), coldhearted, and in a way, weak (this is for modern-day women), but sometimes I'm not so sure. Maybe it's just smart.

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