Culture Briefs

Question of the Day

What has been the biggest debacle on Obama's watch?

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Allergic to ‘no’

“What happens to a kid who’s allergic to the word ‘no’? … [W]hen Lindsay Lohan was arrested (again) for felony drug possession, driving under the influence (again), and driving with a suspended license (again), the world got an answer. …

“People like Lohan need to get sober. They need to be told they can’t drink. They need to be told that sobriety is more important than career. They need to be told they can’t hang out with the same friends and go to the same places. Of course all of that just smacks of ‘no,’ and wouldn’t work for ‘business reasons.’ …

“The recklessness that allows someone like Lohan the same lifestyle she led prior to treatment, combined with a celebrity culture that makes an arrest just another opportunity to get in front of the cameras, is deadly. …

“[A]s pop culture gives permission to every kid in the nation to live without boundaries, we may be in for more public star-imploding debacles. Just one thing has been nagging at me, though: After Britney drove with a baby on her lap and Nicole, Paris and Lindsay each received DUIs, why on earth don’t these gals at least get drivers?”

Sacha Zimmerman, writing on “Supernova,” Thursday in the New Republic Online at www.tnr.com

Space patriot

“Science fiction at one time was despised as vulgar and ‘populist’ by university English departments. Today, it is just another cultural artifact to be deconstructed. … Yet one could argue that science fiction has had a greater impact on the way we all live than any other literary genre of the 20th century. …

“As Arthur C. Clarke put it: ‘Almost every good scientist I know has read science fiction.’ And the greatest writer who produced them was Robert Anson Heinlein, born in Butler, Mo., 100 years ago this month. …

“He sold his first science-fiction story in 1939 for $70, ‘and there was never a chance that I would ever again look for honest work.’ …

“In 1958, in response to what he saw as a liberal effort to weaken America’s military, he … wrote ‘Starship Troopers.’ … In it he imagines a future society in which the right to vote must be earned by volunteering for service, including service in the military. …

“In the ‘70s, in a speech to the midshipmen at the Naval Academy, he said he thought that ‘patriotism has lost its grip on a large percentage of our population. But there is no way to force patriotism on anyone. Passing a law will not create it, nor can we buy it by appropriating so many billions of dollars.’ ”

Taylor Dinerman, writing on “Robert A. Heinlein’s Legacy,” Thursday at OpinionJournal.com

Extinct stardom

“It’s been a long time since I used the phrase ‘movie star’ to describe anyone, and for good reason. It doesn’t seem to apply anymore. The word has become quaint. …

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