- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 15, 2002

Expensive 'Friends'
"No one will be surprised to hear that 'Friends' was the No. 1 show in prime time for the first week of the fall season. That sitcom has been a hit pretty much from the word go, but last year its popularity snowballed to new levels, and now it's become an awesome juggernaut, topping the ratings week after week. Recently, 'Friends' also hit No. 1 on a list that's even more important to a TV network: It is, for advertisers, the single most expensive prime-time show. According to Advertising Age, a typical 30-second spot during 'Friends' costs $455,700, a 29 percent jump that puts the show at the top of this particular list for the first time in its nine-year history.
"I'm sure there's no need for me to explain much about the premise of 'Friends' but it's basically about three guys and three gals who live in suspiciously large New York apartments, humorously cope with the problems that come along with being incredibly good-looking white people, and occasionally sleep with each other.
"The official explanation for the show's increased popularity with advertisers is that lately it's done even spectacularly better with viewers age 18 to 49, and also because this is expected to be the final season of 'Friends' and advertisers want to 'be a part of' that."
Rob Walker, writing on "How 'Friends' wins advertising friends," Oct. 9 in Slate at www.slate.com

No baby boom
"When it comes to predicting baby booms, historical analogies are not very useful. That is why, in the wake of terrorist attacks last September 11 neither demographers nor anyone else can say what might happen to birth rates because there has never been an event just like September 11.
"Since the mid-1980s, [U.S.] fertility rates have crept back up slowly, rising from 1.8 to just over 2.1 [lifetime births] per woman. Demographers have gotten used to predicting that next year's fertility rates will be just a shade more than this year's, with no sudden jumps or crashes. A sudden event, even one as traumatic as the September 11 attacks, seems unlikely to disrupt such a well-established national trend.
"For most Americans, the impact of September 11 is indirect. We are still at home, living with the same people and doing the same jobs as before September 11."
John Haaga, writing on "Post-9/11 Baby Boom Unlikely," in the October issue of Population Today

Better than others
"Did Columbus 'discover' America? Yes in every important respect. This does not mean that no human eye had been cast on America before Columbus arrived. It does mean that Columbus brought America to the attention of the civilized world, i.e., to the growing, scientific civilizations of Western Europe. The result, ultimately, was the United States of America.
"Prior to 1492, what is now the United States was sparsely inhabited, unused, and undeveloped. The inhabitants were primarily hunter-gatherers, wandering across the land, living from hand-to-mouth and from day-to-day. There was virtually no change, no growth for thousands of years. With rare exception, life was nasty, brutish, and short: there was no wheel, no written language, no division of labor, little agriculture and scant permanent settlement; but there were endless, bloody wars. Whatever the problems it brought, the vilified Western culture also brought enormous, undreamed-of benefits, without which most of today's Indians would be infinitely poorer or not even alive.
"Some cultures are better than others: a free society is better than slavery; reason is better than brute force as a way to deal with other men; productivity is better than stagnation. In fact, Western civilization stands for man at his best."
Michael Berliner, writing on "Did Christopher Columbus 'Discover' America?" Thursday in Capitalism at www.capmag.com

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