- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 28, 2003

Gimli speaks

“I think that [J.R.R.] Tolkien says that some generations will be challenged. And if they do not rise to meet that challenge, they will lose their civilization. …

“What is unconscionable is that too many of your fellow journalists do not understand how precarious Western Civilization is and what a joy it is. From it, we get real democracy. From it, we get the sort of intellectual tolerance that allows me to propound something that may be completely alien to you. …

“There is a change happening in the very complexion of Western Civilization in Europe that we should think about, at least, and argue about. If it just means the replacement of one genetic stock with another genetic stock, that doesn’t matter too much. But if it involves the replacement of Western Civilization with a different civilization with different cultural values, then it is something we really ought to discuss.”

“The Lord of the Rings” actor John Rhys-Davies, interviewed by Steve Beard, in the Dec. 17 issue of National Review Online at www.nationalreview.com

Running on fumes

“Most liberal societies fail when they’re unable to transmit their values from one generation to the next. … We don’t want to be a bankrupt generation who, instead of fearing, rightly, our fathers, now fears our children much more.

“Nearly every public issue today, whether illegal immigration or failing schools, boils down to an inability to speak the truth, to act on it, to believe in right and wrong, and use moral judgment. So we have figured out the problem. But how do we of the comfortable suburb go back to the hard work and discipline of the past that are essential to the tragic view? That will be a key problem for the next generation. Are we going to leave children behind that are as sturdy as our parents were?

“What saves us for the moment is that this country is such a wonderful, powerful, rich society that it can run on the fumes of greatness for probably another century. But I’m not sure it can be quite like it was unless we wake up now and rediscover what this country was all about at its founding.”

Victor Davis Hanson, interviewed by David Isaac, in the January/February issue of the American Enterprise

Selective surfing

“Television networks have long counted on viewer loyalty — or, if you prefer, laziness: people’s tendency to sit through subpar shows sandwiched between their favorite ones. But this year TV execs have noticed a disturbing trend: viewers finally seem to have figured how to use their remote controls. …

“The concept of the ‘hammock,’ the time slot that hangs between two top-rated shows, has never been so expertly employed as it was by NBC in the ‘80s and the ‘90s, when the network used its popular Thursday-night heavyweights to introduce new shows and prop up a slew of duds, from ‘Caroline in the City’ to ‘Suddenly Susan’ to ‘Veronica’s Closet.’ …

“This fall, when the catastrophic ‘Coupling’ came on at 9:30 on NBC after ‘Will and Grace,’ viewers … fled by the millions — many returning again only when good old ‘ER’ was on at 10.

“A major reason for the failure of the hammock strategy is the ever-expanding breadth of cable choices. When there’s nearly always something on that’s narrowly targeted to your tastes, why sit through that unfunny new sitcom?”

Michael Crowley, writing on “The Hammock Doesn’t Work Anymore,” in the Dec. 14 issue of the New York Times Magazine


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