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Mother Moore

“Has an actress ever leveraged pregnancy more effectively than Demi Moore? The recent births by Gwyneth Paltrow and Julia Roberts reminded us of everything we love about them. Moore, by comparison, uses pregnancy to make us forget what we detest about her. Moore’s most celebrated pregnancy was her second, at 28, when she posed for Annie Leibovitz’s infamous [1991] Vanity Fair cover shot. The movie Moore was ostensibly promoting (‘The Butcher’s Wife’) was wretched and seen by no one. But the photos were so incendiary that Moore was elevated to the role of feminist saint. … ‘People can’t bear the idea that I could be sexual and provocative, and still be a nice person with a nice family and a nice husband,’ she said later. …

“Motherhood does more than animate Demi’s public persona. She says it invests her movies with previously unnoticed depth. This will come as a surprise to some viewers, who thought Moore’s movies were primarily vehicles for her to cry and remove her clothes. …

“‘Pregnancy agrees with me,’ Demi once said. So much more than acting.”

Bryan Curtis, writing on “Demi Moore,” last Wednesday in Slate at www.slate.com

Two traditions

“Most historians have accepted for several years now that the Enlightenment, once popularly characterized as the Age of Reason, came in two versions, the radical and the skeptical. The former is now generally identified with France, the latter with Scotland. It has also been acknowledged that the anti-clericalism that obsessed the French philosophes was not reciprocated in Britain or America. Indeed, in both these countries many Enlightenment concepts — human rights, liberty, equality, tolerance, science, progress — complemented rather than opposed church thinking. …

“Moreover, unlike the French who elevated reason to the primary role in human affairs, British thinkers gave reason a secondary, instrumental role. In Britain it was virtue that trumped all other qualities. This was not personal virtue but the ‘social virtues’ — compassion, benevolence, sympathy — which the British philosophers believed naturally, instinctively, and habitually bound people to one another. In the abstract, this difference might seem merely one of degree but, as it worked itself out in the subsequent history of the Continent and the British Isles, it was profound.”

Keith Windschuttle, writing on “Which Enlightenment?” in the March issue of the New Criterion

Beyond reform

“Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, is a smart man. Such being the case, why isn’t he able to recognize the real solution to the woes of public schooling?

“Gates recently published an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times in which he stated, ‘Our high schools are obsolete. … Until we design high schools to meet the needs of the 21st century, we will keep limiting — even ruining — the lives of millions of Americans every year.’ …

“Gates sees the problem. When it comes to the solution, however, his mind remains mired within the public-school paradigm, leading him to fall into the same reform trap that bedevils so many others. …

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