- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 20, 2006

Sound familiar?

“CBS is obviously in a hyper-promotional mode for their new fall season starring Her Perkiness herself, Katie Couric. In case you’ve missed the early blitz of ads touting her arrival date as the anchor for [‘The CBS Evening News], she’ll be starting just after Labor Day on Sept. 5. Les Moonves, the network’s chairman, told USA Today, with typical understatement, ‘No matter what you say, this is the biggest event of the fall.’

“In order to make sure everybody knows about Katie, CBS sent their $15 million-dollar baby on a ‘listening tour’ last week trying to learn what ‘real folks’ — not to be confused with those in media munching $28 hamburgers at Michael’s — want from the evening news.

“A ‘listening tour’ sounds familiar, right? Well, it should. It was organized by Matthew Hiltzik, Katie’s personal publicist, who just happened to have organized Hillary Clinton’s ‘listening tour’ when she embarked on her senatorial campaign in 2000.”

—Myrna Blyth, writing on “Sunnyside Up,” Wednesday in National Review Online at www.nationalreview.com

Blah, blah blogs

“When I hear the word ‘bloggers,’ I tend to think of the A-listers. But the top 100 are not the quarry of the Pew Internet & American Life Project telephone survey of bloggers, published [Wednesday]. They’re stalking the larger universe of 12 million adult Americans who blog. …

“Pew reports that 90 percent of bloggers say they’ve read other blogs. Only 39 percent of the Internet audience says it has read someone else’s blog. Of the surveyed bloggers … 9 percent claim that the news media has paid attention or cited them. But 9 percent of 12 million bloggers comes out to about 1 million bloggers. Have radio, TV, newspapers, and other official news media really acknowledged that many blogs or bloggers? I wish Pew had supplied the gender information on this one. Another reflection of male size syndrome, I’ll bet.

“I’m not disparaging bloggers, so please don’t treat me to a high-tech lynching. But this study shows that at this early point in the blog era, the great mass of bloggers aren’t set on replacing reporters.”

—Jack Shafer, writing on “Who Are All These Bloggers?” Wednesday in Slate at www.slate.com

Hollywood physics

“I have always wanted to be a physicist, but little did I know what a glamorous and exciting profession I was entering. If the movies are to be believed, my fellow physicists are not just smart people. They are also courageous, often saving the world even at grave personal risk; generous, freely giving their valuable research results to humanity; and handsome or beautiful to boot. …

“[T]he physicists who loom large in the film world — male or female, heroes or villains — are often presented as extremely attractive people. And, if one is to believe the movies, physics is also full of thrilling new results, such as cold fusion and the ability to manipulate quantum reality by our very thoughts. …

“Physics in film really hit its stride in 1950 with ‘Destination Moon,’ a movie about the first rocket ship to go to the Moon. … [T]he film was to initiate a string of movies that constitute a golden age of science-fiction cinema. By then, physics had entered the public psyche following the development of atomic bombs, radar and rockets during the Second World War, and — spurred further by a growing interest in spaceflight and technology — physicists appeared in several classic films of the 1950s.”

—Sidney Perkowitz, writing on “Hollywood physics,” in the July issue of Physics World

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