- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 1, 2005

Fearful of facts

“[T]he country got a taste of academic politics when: (1) the president of Harvard, Larry Summers, raised the possibility at an academic conference that ‘innate sex differences’ might be one of many reasons explaining why fewer women reach the top in science;

“(2) MIT professor of biology Nancy Hopkins flounced out of the conference, telling the media she would have “blacked out” had she stayed; and

“(3) Summers made a Soviet show-trial confession of sin.

“The feminists won the political fight in the academy (of course), but politics can’t change the facts. …

“This fight boils down to a paltry point — more males than females are apt to have the off-the-map talent that lands them professorships in fields like physics, especially at elite universities. … [N]o one could be doing more to reinforce damaging social stereotypes about women than Nancy Hopkins. … She didn’t offer argument or evidence. She flounced off, fearful of swooning.”

Judith Kleinfeld, writing on “Truth to Power,” Jan. 25 in National Review Online at www.nationalreview.com

Bad scenes

“Critics have called ‘Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas’ a blood-soaked crime simulator that valorizes the worst gangsta stereotypes. What they haven’t noticed, though, is that everyone’s favorite shoot-‘em-up is also a family drama. Early on in the game, my character discovers his brother and sister fighting over her decision to date a South Side Hispanic man. I don’t need this racism, she says, from ‘a no-good, narrow-minded, hypocrite gangbanger.’

“These minimovies, called ‘cut-scenes,’ are part of a longtime trend in gaming to create more nuanced characters and more story-based play. Whether a cut scene explains your next mission or just sets a mood, the basic idea is to make a game seem cinematic — more like ‘Citizen Kane’ than Pac-Man. For many designers, crafting bravura cut scenes has become the best way to transform a mere game into a genre-smashing event. …

“These Hollywood flourishes are good for dazzling mainstream journalists and pundits. That’s because there’s still a weird anxiety about adults playing games. Most people still think that video games are sophomoric kid stuff; the ones that have a narrative and emulate the movies seem more serious and, well, mature. In fact, I think the truth is almost the opposite. The more video games become like movies, the worse they are as games.”

Clive Thompson, writing on “Oughtta Stay Out of Pictures,” Thursday in Slate at www.slate.com

Oscar follies

“It’s the Red State/Blue State rumble that never happened. Supporters of both ‘The Passion of the Christ’ and ‘Fahrenheit 9/11’ are both crying foul at their respective films’ lack of acknowledgment by Academy voters. …

“Is this not, after all, the same Academy that bestowed a Best Picture award five years ago on the intellectually stunted faux epic ‘Gladiator,’ never mind the Best Actor nod Russell Crowe got for the same film? … This is the same Academy that gave Halle Berry Best Actress for … tearing all her clothes off and rolling around on the floor naked with Billy Bob Thornton? …

“Of course, occasionally the Academy honors a worthwhile performance or film. How could they not? But when an award does happen to cross paths with my tastes … I understand that it is totally coincidental.”

Shawn Macomber, writing on “Shunning Oscar,” Friday in the American Spectator Online

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