- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Hollywood blues

“The most out-of-it people I’ve ever spoken to about technology are Hollywood people. One of my frequent jobs is to moderate panels at media conferences where entertainment executives try to talk sagely about the new media. They know nothing.

“This is partly because Hollywood is a surprisingly old industry — dominated by the over-60 set. And partly because it’s Hollywood — and Hollywood is hipper and sexier than those ugly people in Silicon Valley, isn’t it? And because in Hollywood they’re obsessed with stories — and technology can’t produce a better plotline, can it? And because everybody in Hollywood has reams of personal assistants who insulate them from technology. …

“But this does not mean that they don’t know that something big is happening. … They may not know about technology, but they sure know about jockeying for position.”

Michael Wolff, writing on “The Plot Sickens,” in the March issue of Vanity Fair


“In 2002, Ghyslain Raza, a chubby Canadian teen, filmed himself acting out a fight scene from ‘Star Wars’ using a makeshift light saber. His awkward performance was funny, in part because it wasn’t meant to be. And it certainly was never meant to be public: for nearly a year the video remained on a shelf in Raza’s school’s TV studio, where he’d filmed it. Sometime in 2003, though, another student discovered the video, digitized it and posted it online — and Raza’s nightmare began. Within days, ‘Star Wars Kid’ had become a viral frenzy. It was posted on hundreds of blogs, enhanced by music and special effects, and watched by millions. …

“Razas of the world take note: among the generation that’s been reared online, stories like this are becoming more and more common. They serve as important reminders of a dark side of instant Internet fame: humiliation. Already dozens of Web sites exist solely to help those who would shame others. …

“Although social stigma can be a useful deterrent, ‘the Internet is a loose cannon,’ says ethicist Jim Cohen of Fordham University School of Law in New York. Online there are few checks and balances and no due process — and validating the credibility of a claim is difficult, to say the least. Moreover, studies show that the anonymity of the Net encourages people to say things they normally wouldn’t.”

Jessica Bennett, writing on “The Flip Side of Internet Fame,” Feb. 22 at Newsweek.com

College slowdown

“By this point, it’s not news to anyone that staying active can benefit the heart, the waistline, even the mind. …

“More than 60 percent of American adults do not exercise regularly, and many are content to admit they don’t exercise at all. More than 72 million are obese, and almost every one of them would like to shed the extra pounds. So if exercise is such a good idea, why don’t more people do it?

“The most paradoxical part of our sedentary nature is that we don’t start out that way. Even as I write this, I am watching my 2-year-old run around in circles. … Kids seem to be born in constant motion, but along the way that behavior gets hijacked.

“According to kinesiologist Steven Bray at McMaster University in Ontario, the slowdown occurs for many of us at around the time we start college. Bray followed 127 subjects and found that on the whole, first-year college students participate in significantly less exercise than they did just one year before. …

“That’s a pattern we repeat over and over. The demands of a new job usually mean less time at the gym or on the jogging track. How about a new marriage? How many times have we seen newlyweds looking a lot plumper in first-anniversary photos than they did in the wedding pictures?”

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, writing on “Stuck on the Couch,” in the Feb. 21 edition of Time

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