Stay-at-Home entertainment vs. live theater

What with Netflix, on-demand TV, Hulu on the iPad, and videos on the smart phone, more and more people are staying at home for their entertainment, cocooning unto themselves.  Even going to the movies is too communal and too much trouble for a lot of us, who prefer to wait until we can watch a new film when it comes out on Netflix, rather than getting out of the house.  But this tendency is wreaking worse havoc on live theater.

Thanks to Bruce Gee for putting me onto this column from Terry Teachout, drama critic at the Wall Street Journal. [Read more...]

Top news stories of 2013

The Associated Press released its list of the top 10 news stories of 2013, based on polls of American editors and news directors.  See the list after the jump.  What would you add?  What do you think was the most important news event of 2013? [Read more...]

Virtual evil in video games

“How Evil Should a Video Game Allow You to Be?”  That’s the title of a provocative essay for the New Yorker by Simon Parkin.  When you read a work of literature featuring an evil person, you are in the mode of an observer.  But when you  play certain popular video games, you enter into the point of view of the evil person and are implicated in what he does (since, after all, you cause them).  The article isn’t against video games as such–indeed, it shows how this ability to put the player into a particular point of view has great artistic possibilities.  But still, as the article recounts some of the depravity that video games cause us to act out, it raises important questions, especially for Christians for whom sin “in the heart” can be as soul-destroying as sin acted out. [Read more...]

Defining who gets Constitutional rights

A Senate committee approved a “media shield” bill designed to protect journalists from having to reveal their sources and giving them protection from government surveillance.  In doing so, the bill defines who gets to be a journalist.  To get these protections, you have to be a paid, professional employee of a recognized news organization.  Bloggers aren’t protected.  I might be because of my past work for World Magazine.  But not, presumably, Matt Drudge, who has often broken stories from confidential sources, including President Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky.

Beyond this particular law is a bigger question.  The Constitution guarantees freedom of “the press.”  Is that to apply only to professional journalists?  Or to those who own printing presses, namely, newspaper companies and publishing houses?  At the time of the Constitution, individuals like Ben Franklin–who could hardly be considered a professional news reporter– ran their own printing presses, printing their political opinions and commenting on the news of the day.  The internet in effect allows just about everybody to have their own printing press.  Shouldn’t freedom of the press extend to what you write on a blog or your FaceBook page?

And might other Constitutional rights be restricted by defining who they apply to?  Isn’t this already happening in the way some are construing civil liberties?  “You have the right to keep and bear arms.  That is, you have the right to join the National Guard and to keep your arms in the local armory.”  “You have freedom of religion.  No one will stop you from going to church, and we won’t make your church pay for morning after pills.  Just don’t act on your religious beliefs in the way you run your business.”  “You have freedom of speech, which entitles you to use pornography.  But don’t criticize homosexuality in public.” [Read more...]

Storming Wikipedia

Wikipedia depends on readers and volunteer editors to write, edit, and correct its entries.  Theoretically, the vast network of contributors will make for an online encyclopedia that is accurate, objective, and self-correcting.  But this also leaves Wikipedia open to contributors with an ideological agenda.  Which is the plan for an organized effort–for college credit, no less–“to advance feminist principles of social justice” by “writ[ing] feminist thinking” into Wikipedia.  The project is called “Storming Wikipedia,” an image from the French Revolution, with the revolutionary masses storming the Bastille.  But the feminists doing this could inspire other sans-culottes. [Read more...]

Lacking any sense of proportion

Mark Steyn tells about a dad who asked his 15-year-old son to hold his beer for a second so he could take a picture.  Whereupon he got busted by the cops for giving alcohol to a minor.  Mr. Steyn puts his finger on a problem in law enforcement that, I would add, is also a problem in politics, public discourse, and the culture in general:  The lack of  any sense of proportion. [Read more...]


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