- The Washington Times - Monday, October 4, 2004

Real heroes

“What makes firefighters run into a burning building when everyone else is running out? What gives some people such a sense of brotherly love that they would willingly give their lives in the hope of saving others? These are questions our nation has considered deeply since September 11, 2001. ‘Ladder 49’ … makes a fond attempt to answer them. …

“[W]hile the film paints a somewhat idyllic portrait of our bravest and best, it also reflects the heart change that affected America in the aftermath of 9/11 when we collectively remembered who our true heroes are: not gangsters, criminals, and thugs, but the men who sacrifice themselves to protect us every day.

“There’s something particularly appropriate about ‘90s megastar John Travolta’s being the father figure presiding over the culture shift. … No Chili Palmer, Vincent Vega-style cools lurk here. Instead, Travolta and the rest of the cast give us characters who are actually worthy of our admiration. Unlike the incessant chatterboxes in ‘Pulp Fiction,’ a movie that characterized the last decade for many, these men say very little — but mean a lot.

Megan Basham, writing on “A Fiery Tribute,” Friday in National Review Online at www.nationalreview.com

‘Sprawl’ myth

“Suburbanites, watch out! The anti-sprawl mob is coming to rob you of the peace of mind you moved to the suburbs to get.

“‘Suburban sprawl linked to chronic ailments,’ was [last] week’s health-scare headline, prompted by a new study from the Rand Corporation. …

“It’s enough to make you want to move back to grimy cities where you can’t park your car, take a walk after dark, see the stars at night, get a restful night’s sleep or enjoy the beauty of nature’s greenery — or is it?

“Fret not, my fellow and aspiring suburbanites. This study is about as weighty as the dandelion spores blowing through my back yard. …

“[T]he study cannot possibly link living in suburbia with health problems because no data were gathered on whether living in suburbia was the actual cause of any of the reported health problems. Just because the ‘more sprawl’ population had a higher prevalence of high blood pressure than the ‘less sprawl’ population, for example, that doesn’t necessarily mean sprawl is the only explanation for the difference. …

“Suburban growth may be a legitimate public-policy issue, but the unsubstantiated notion that suburban living is unhealthy so far has no place in that debate.”

Steven Milloy, writing on “Suburbs Don’t Pose Health Risk,” Friday at www.foxnews.com

Racist ‘reality’?

“‘Reality’ TV and the reality of race in America have, it seems, collided again, this time on … NBC’s toady talent show ‘The Apprentice,’ which features 18 wannabe lackeys fighting to curry the favor of everyone’s favorite comb-over zillionaire.

“On Sept. 23, in the show’s climactic boardroom segment, Stacie Jones Upchurch, a.k.a. Stacie J. — the sole African-American female contestant — was not only fired by Donald Trump, but vilified by her white and Asian female teammates. ‘Borderline schizophrenic,’ diagnosed one. …

“‘It’s a black girl scaring all the white girls,’ Upchurch [says]. ‘It’s something I go through as an African American every day. It has elements of racism in it — I can’t lie about it.’ …

“This isn’t about the injustice of Stacie’s elimination — we’re not talking about the World Court. It’s about the perpetuation of an ugly reality-TV stereotype: the Angry/Crazy Black Woman.”

Mark Harris, writing on “Color Blind,” in the Friday issue of Entertainment Weekly

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