- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 25, 2001

Life on line

"To paraphrase Winston Churchill, I, like many professional scholars and writers, came reluctantly to the school of high technology; but once there, I was made an attentive pupil … .

"At present, I find myself the owner or caretaker of four machines (including a laptop) that require more maintenance and attention than my much older automobile or, for that matter, than anything else of mine, including my dog and children.

"My situation is hardly unique. Memos announcing everything from mandatory faculty meetings to major campus events are disseminated by e-mail and electronic bulletin boards; major committee meetings are sometimes conducted in 'chat rooms'; and in some places, I understand, candidates for academic positions are invited to 'online visits' rather than transported across country for face-to-face interviews … .

"Online publishing of significant works is rapidly on its way. As soon as copyright and restriction problems can be worked out assuming that they can be worked out e-texts will be as familiar to us as any bookshelf. It's quite possible that, within the next decade, the notion of actually seeing thoughts, ideas or scholarship printed on paper and bound in a book or journal could be as arcane as television antennas or full-service gas stations."

Clay Reynolds in "Where will you be when the lights go out?" in the February issue of Chronicles

Hollywood prudes

" 'All four candidates in last fall's presidential election probably agreed on one thing that there is too much sex in movies,' says James Toback, director of films like 'Two Guys and a Girl' and 'Black and White,' both of which contain controversial sex scenes. 'My question is, what movies are politicians talking about? They are outraged by something that doesn't exist.'

"Toback is right. Almost 10 years ago, I surveyed the films of a number of directors who had been uncharacteristically bold in their treatment of sex, and since that time, horizons have narrowed… .

"A number of directors are far more squeamish about shooting sex scenes than moralizing politicians might guess. 'I was raised in the '50s, and I'm still such a prude,' says Don Roos, who directed the wry 1998 comedy, 'The Opposite of Sex.' "

Stephen Farber, writing on "Directors on Sex," in the February issue of Movieline

'Cruelest touch'

"Pop culture's penchant for ridiculing [President] Bush and trashing his administration is about to get far, far worse.

"The creators of 'South Park,' the scatological cartoon show featuring foul-mouthed grade schoolers vandalizing the culture, are working on a sitcom about President Bush and his family. The cable network Comedy Central home of 'South Park' plans to air 'Family First' starting Feb. 28 … .

"The show is far from Dick Van Dyke goes to Washington. The cruelest touch is what creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker have in mind for Mr. Bush's 19-year-old twin daughters, Barbara and Jenna. According to casting notes obtained by the New York Post, the two will be portrayed as incestuous lesbians.

"This is confirmed in the audition script posted on the Web, whose other major theme had to do with oral sex … .

"After Bill Clinton was elected, there were a few mild jokes on TV having to do with his daughter, Chelsea, but the cruelty of violating a young girl's dignity just because her parents were suddenly in the public eye became obvious even for Hollywood.

"Chastened comedians declared Chelsea off-limits, but they apparently will not extend this sensitivity to the Bush family."

Gene Veith in "Trashing the First Family" in the Jan. 28 issue of World

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