- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 8, 2003

Martha’s walk

“The spectacle of Martha Stewart being led into a Manhattan courthouse yesterday was disconcerting in so many ways that one doesn’t know where to begin. For a start, hers may have been the first ever ‘perp walk’ in which the accused carried an umbrella that was color coordinated to match her trench coat (both tasteful pale neutrals).

“The ‘Domestic Diva’ was indicted on charges of securities fraud, conspiracy, making false statements and obstruction of justice. … Ms. Stewart pleaded not guilty, but what about her customers, and their torn loyalties?

“The familiar, almost iconic image of Ms. Stewart … will leave some feeling queasy about the arrest of a woman who looks alarmingly like one’s Junior League aunt or stylish boss. …

“Given Martha’s field of world domination (housekeeping), the juxtaposition of warm domesticity and criminality is almost too jarring for us to process. …

“Like a centerpiece that doesn’t quite work, there’s something unsettling about the jokes that are already staler than old bread, about Martha redecorating her jail cell.”

Amy Finnerty, writing on “Far From Tidy,” Thursday in the Wall Street Journal

More dead trees

“In the 1950s, those predicting the future routinely assumed that religion as a force in world affairs was finished forever, nationalism was no longer politically relevant, and atomic energy would soon provide all of civilization’s power, cheap. …

“Over the years most futurists have agreed on the imminence of one Utopian ideal, the paperless office, a place where everyone will work exclusively on computers and read only from screens. ‘Smearing ink on dead trees,’ as one futurist contemptuously called it, will no longer be necessary. …

“As recently as 1992, Paul Saffo, director of the Institute for the Future in Menlo Park, Calif., expressed his confidence in the same idea. … ‘The 1990s,’ Saffo wrote, ‘will be a transitional decade bringing us ever closer to a paperless world.’ …

“Paper consumption has steadily risen since he wrote that, and shows no signs of slacking off. How come? …

“When people deliver a report to the boss, they feel much better handing it over in printed form. Sending it as an e-mail attachment, while more efficient and cheaper, isn’t as emotionally satisfying.

“If this explains why paper remains popular, why does it keep growing more popular? Because using it keeps getting easier. Once it took time and effort to cover a piece of paper with words. Now you push a button.”

Robert Fulford, writing on “Whatever happened to the paperless office?” May 31 in the National Post

Fatherly fish

“‘Finding Nemo’ is the story of [a fish named] Nemo’s separation from, and eventual reunion with, his father, Marlin (Albert Brooks). Just after Nemo (Alexander Gould) swims away from his father to prove that he can handle himself in the dangerous ocean, a scuba diver captures him. He ends up in an aquarium in a dentist’s office in Sydney, Australia. …

“‘Finding Nemo’ could also be titled ‘Finding Marlin,’ since Nemo is on a quest to return to his father, a quest that leads to the unexpected discovery of virtues in his father that he had not previously seen. In a wonderfully constructed sequence, rumors about Marlin’s quest to find his son begin to circulate among the various aquatic creatures; the distinctive animation and verbal accents for each group subtly highlights the rich diversity of ocean life.

“Eventually, by means of a friendly pelican, word reaches Nemo at the dentist’s office and he beams with joy and awe to learn of his father’s devotion and courage. In its celebration of the bond between fathers and sons, ‘Finding Nemo’ is a rare Hollywood production indeed.”

Thomas Hibbs, writing on “Fathers & Sons, Under the Sea,” Thursday in National Review Online at www.nationalreview.com

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