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Culture Briefs

- - Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Who is Sarah?

"Sarah Palin's connection with her audience is complete. People who admire her believe she is just like them, and this conviction seems to satisfy their curiosity about the objective facts of her life. Those whose curiosity has not been satisfied have their work cut out for them. …

"With few exceptions — mostly Palin antagonists in journalism and politics whose beefs with her have long been out in the open — virtually no one who knows Palin well is willing to talk about her on the record, whether because they are loyal and want to protect her (a small and shrinking number), or because they expect her prominence to grow and intend to keep their options open, or because they fear she will exact revenge, as she has been known to do. …

"She manages to be at once a closed book and a constant noisemaker. … She injects herself into the news almost every day, but on a strictly one-way basis, through a steady stream of messages on Twitter and Facebook. … Palin is the only politician whose tweets are regularly reported as news by TV networks. She is the only one who has been able to significantly change the course of debate on a major national issue (health-care reform) with a single Facebook posting (in which she accused the Obama administration, falsely, of wanting to set up a 'death panel')."

Michael Joseph Gross, writing on "Sarah Palin: The Sound and the Fury," in the October issue of Vanity Fair

'Genuine' apology?

"Nearly one year after Kanye West famously interrupted Taylor Swift's acceptance speech for Best Female Video at MTV's Video Music Awards, the rapper has taken to his Twitter to apologize — for the second time — to the young award-winner. [Last weekend], West unleashed a barrage of tweets about the famous incident … 'When I woke up from the crazy nightmare I looked in the mirror and said GROW UP KANYE … I take responsibility for my actions,' one of the rapper's tweets read. …

"Of course, the timing of the tweets — released so close to the anniversary of the buzzed-about incident — is a little suspect, especially when you consider that VMA host Chelsea Handler is aiming to reunite the two during this year's awards ceremony on Sept. 12. … But, for the time being, should we view West's second apology as genuine?"

Kate Ward, writing on "Kanye West apologizes to Taylor Swift on Twitter," on EntertainmentWeekly.com Sept. 4.

Honoring teachers

"Regardless of where the school is or what it's called: public, private, charter or magnet, parents know (even if the rest of the world often forgets) that teachers are what matter most …

"[W]hat was always apparent is that life of a teacher is really hard work. Really hard. Every day is a performance, but with a new script. There's curricula to follow. Lessons to plan. Discipline problems. There are the fast learners, who might get ahead or might get bored, and there's the slower-learning kids, who need that extra attention. Or the quiet ones, where you have to assess what's actually going on. …

"But what keeps these teachers going every day is the impact they have on kids. Knowing the potential they have. Feeling when it happens. Seeing a kid's face light up. … They knew then, and know now it's not about the latest debate: The curricula. Or class size. It's not about the reform du jour. It's simple. …

"Every teacher on every list for every school needs to be great. And we can't stop until we get there."

Davis Guggenheim, writing on "Repeat After Me: We Can't Have Great Schools Without Great Teachers," in the Huffington Post Sept. 6