- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 7, 2002

Information overload
"The hyperlinks at the heart of the Web are ultimately bad, because breadth instead of depth is a recipe for intellectual disaster. The idea that the instant you get bored with something click and it disappears and you're somewhere else brings out all the worst in our culture. Our shrinking attention spans, our superficiality, our unwillingness to come to grips with real issues, our insistence on bite-sized chunks of everything.
"Fifty years ago, there was more information in the [New York] Times and the Herald Tribune every day than a school kid could possibly use. There was more information in a small-town library or an elementary-school library than any school kid would ever need.
"Kids aren't learning to read or write properly, they don't know any history. The idea that we need to dump more information on top of them, and make it easier for them to skate from site to site, is perverse."
Yale computer scientist David Gelernter, interviewed in the January/February issue of the American Spectator

Working-class wisdom
"NYPD was more than ready for the protesters threatening to invade New York during last week's World Economic Forum. On [Jan. 31], as a soft rain fell, I walked across the Brooklyn Bridge to see how the city was being patrolled. I figured this was a good starting point: the bridge has been a marching ground for many a New York demonstration.
"I stopped to talk with a veteran cop, who agreed if his name wasn't used. He was leaning against a railing smoking a cigarette. I asked him what he thought about the protests to take place by the Waldorf-Astoria.
"He gave me a small smile. 'These protesters are supposed to be pro-working-man, right? You think they might protest for us cops?'
"The cop looked around and threw down his cigarette in disgust. 'Look, people in Central America and other poor countries have my sympathy, but I can barely make my mortgage payments, and I ain't saving [anything] for my kid's college education. So until they do something about that, I don't care about them or their protests.'"
C.J. Sullivan, writing on "No Protests, No Peace," in the Feb. 6 issue of the New York Press

Emblem of our era
"How about that. For once, the football game was as interesting as the commercials.
"You can't ignore the ads anymore. Ever since director Ridley Scott's 1984 Macintosh spot, the commercials have been a major part of the annual Super Bowl show a telecast that draws approximately 800 million viewers worldwide.
"Receiving the most pre-game publicity was Pepsi's Britney Spears extravaganza actually a series of commercials featuring Spears in mock Pepsi ads from decades gone by. There is Spears as a 1958 soda fountain patron in suitably grainy black-and-white, Spears as a white Supreme circa '63, 1966 beach party Britney, 1970 hippie-chick Britney.
"Eras are defined largely in hindsight. After all, who has the self-awareness (or clairvoyance) to understand exactly how a decade will be recalled?
"However, the new ad may well have captured the current moment anyway, for one reason Britney herself. What other figure on the current pop horizon has a better shot at becoming the emblem of the age?"
Steve Burgess, writing on "Please note: You're in the Britney Generation," Tuesday in Salon at www.salon.com

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