- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 16, 2006

St. Oprah

“After two decades of searching for her authentic self — exploring New Age theories, giving away cars, trotting out fat, recommending good books and tackling countless issues from serious to frivolous — Oprah Winfrey has risen to a new level of guru.

“Although the concept of the Rev. Oprah has been building through the years, never was it more evident than this season of her talk show. …

“She appeared in New Orleans to take on the government after Hurricane Katrina hit last August, and she sent a message to us all about civil rights as she stood by the casket of Coretta Scott King in February. Last week, she shed a tear with Teri Hatcher over sexual abuse memories, and she jumped on the Darfur bandwagon, encouraging viewers to support refugees there. …

“‘No one person should have that kind of power to affect markets, politics or anything else,’ says Debbie Schlussel, a lawyer, conservative columnist and blogger.

“Love her or loathe her, Winfrey has become proof that you can’t be too rich, too thin or too committed to rising to your place in the world.”

— Ann Oldenburg, writing on “The divine Miss Winfrey?” Thursday in USA Today

Birth of terror

“The American attitude toward the French Revolution has been generally favorable — naturally enough for a nation itself born in revolution. But as revolutions go, the French one in 1789 was among the worst. True, in the name of liberty, equality and fraternity, it overthrew a corrupt regime. Yet what these fine ideals led to was, first, the terror and mass murder in France, and then Napoleon and his wars. … After this pointless slaughter came the restoration of the same corrupt regime that the Revolution overthrew. Aside from immense suffering, the upheaval achieved nothing.

“Leading the betrayal of the Revolution’s initial ideals and its transformation into a murderous ideological tyranny was Maximilien Robespierre, a monster who set up a system expressly aimed at killing thousands of innocents. … He is the prototype of a particularly odious kind of evildoer: the ideologue who believes that reason and morality are on the side of his butcheries. Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, and Pol Pot are of the same mold.”

— John Kekes, writing on “Why Robespierre Chose Terror,” in the spring issue of City Journal

Baby love

“A group of scientists has discovered that women are attracted to men who are fond of children. In years gone by, that announcement might have qualified for one of the late Sen. William Proxmire’s Golden Fleece awards for pointless scientific research — except that what this particular group of scientists has shown is that women can tell who is and is not fond of children just by looking at their faces. …

“The surprise is this: some men were perceived both as masculine and as interested in children. From an evolutionary point of view, a trade-off between the two would have been predicted. That would produce what is known as an evolutionarily stable strategy in which the child-loving men father fewer babies to start with, but see as many live to maturity because they help to raise them rather than deserting the mothers.

“From the female point of view, the existence of men who are both hunky and child-friendly might seem too good to be true. For the men involved, it certainly seems like a lot of hard work.”

— From “Oochy woochy coochy coo,” in the May 11 issue of the Economist

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