- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Green speed

“Al Gore III, the son of former Vice President Al Gore, was arrested on Wednesday after police discovered marijuana and prescription drugs in his car. Gore III had been pulled over on the San Diego Freeway for speeding at about 100 mph in his Toyota Prius. Wait a second — can a Prius really go 100 miles per hour?

“Yes, but just. Speed tests have confirmed that a new Prius can top out between 100 mph and 105 mph. That’s not too speedy when compared with Toyota’s conventional sedans — some Corollas can get up to 124 mph, and Camrys can reach 130 mph. …

“Now that the Prius brand has become synonymous with hybrid vehicles, it’s easy to assume that the other hybrid cars share its lack of mojo. …

“But not all hybrids are tuned for fuel efficiency. … The new Lexus hybrid sedan can reach up to 131 mph and can go from 0 mph to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds — that’s faster than some Porsches.”

Katherine Evans, writing on “Yes, a Prius Goes 100 MPH,” Friday in Slate.com

Cultural challenge

“Most liberal democracies have been able to avoid this question of what positive freedoms they want to encourage because they haven’t been challenged. Now they are challenged by minorities—Muslim immigrants in Europe, for example — or in some way by rising cultures in Asia that have a very strong sense of their own moral community, their own nonliberal values. It has become a very live issue.

“In Europe especially, the issue of immigration and identity converges with the larger problem of the valuelessness of postmodernity. The rise of relativism has made it harder to assert positive values and therefore the shared beliefs Europeans demand of immigrants as conditions for citizenship. Postmodern elites have evolved beyond identities defined by religion and nation to what they regard as a superior place. But aside from their celebration of endless diversity and tolerance, they find it difficult to agree on the substance of the good life to which they aspire in common.”

Francis Fukuyama, interviewed by Nathan Gardels in the spring issue of New Perspectives Quarterly

‘All too easy’

Paris Hilton. Paris Hilton. Paris Hilton.

“There: I just had to get everyone’s attention. And now that I have, here’s an announcement I hope many of you will welcome: I’m not really going to talk about Paris Hilton. Well, not much, anyway — just long enough to talk about why we need to find something else (almost anything else) to talk about.

“The only thing worth exploring about the Paris press orgy is why she’s such a big deal. …

“Other celebrity girls-gone-wild — Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan — have made an impact: Millions of girls have wanted to be like them. (Though not so much any more.) No one ever wanted to be like Paris. Everyone knows her, but no one ever looked up to her. Just the opposite.

“And that’s the real reason people talk about Paris Hilton, I think — beyond the usual money/fame/beauty reasons. They can look down on her. They see her as a spoiled ultra-rich kid who takes plenty and gives back nothing, who makes messes and expects other people to clean them up, who breaks the rules the rest of us are supposed to live by and imagines she’s entitled to do it.

“Someone like Paris Hilton is easy to look down on. All too easy.”

Matt Kaufman, writing on “This Article Is Not About Paris Hilton,” June 14 in Boundless.org