Why Sagwa's Better than Sesame Street

Virginia Heffernan: “The show is uneven, and though the non-Tan scripts do slightly drag, the art may be its real defect. Unlike uneducational cartoons like South Park or The Powerpuff Girls, Sagwa lacks a clear design sense. Its cartoon universe is stilted. PBS may be trying to avoid campy chinoiserie, but it has gone too heavy on the light touch. The magistrate's throne room, for example, did not have to be so spare; it could have been more exciting, more opulently colored, with a hint of the intricacy of Chinese patterns. For that matter, PBS might even have risked gongs and gilt. Visual clich�s are at the heart of cartoons, after all. Don't animated prisoners still wear stripes?”

From a generally positive review of the show Sagwa on PBS. Note the Asiaphillic reference to a Japanese product (Hello Kitty) in the title.

Soccer and Nationalism

Anne Applebaum: “Outside the stadium that day, soccer mania had gripped the nation--and it is a mistake to imagine that only the hooligans temporarily turn into chauvinistic nationalists on the day of an England match. Otherwise well-behaved friends of mine were genuinely outraged that I, a mere foreigner, had received a press ticket. Germany jokes, usually involving the Nazis, were all the rage. One was attributed to Mrs. Thatcher, who upon being told that Germany had defeated England (which they did, of course) had allegedly replied, 'They may have beat us at our national game, but we beat them twice at their national game in the 20th century.'”

The World Cup, I realized today, interests me not. Sure, it happens once every four years, and I used to believe I was interested, having played the game and since I actually understand the offside rule. Early morning start times (here anyway), the scene of dejected Italy fans on Commercial Drive blaming the ref for their team's loss (oh so cliché) and no idea which team to cheer for (I lose interest in playoffs when the team I'm cheering for gets kicked out anyway) lead to disinterest on my part. The final game will be the only game I watch in full, but I'm not even sure about that.

Pollyanna-ish View of Online Personals

Emily Nussbaum: “[C]reating an online ad is in and of itself a weirdly satisfying creative experience--and most often not a solitary one. A newsprint personal is terse and permanent, something one whispers to a copy editor during work hours, hand cupped over the phone. In contrast, a personal ad online is a linked, living creature--it can be drunkenly altered at 2 a.m. or mass-edited by a squad of enthusiastic co-workers or critiqued snarkily via instant message. It can be hidden for six months then revved back to life like a discarded motorcycle.”

Leah McLaren's So-Called Dating Ineptitude

Leah McLaren: “In my limited experience dating, I have been known to: arrive late, talk in detail about my previous relationships, mention my mother a lot, drink out of nervousness, bitch about work, reveal the names I have picked out for my firstborn children (Sybil for a girl, Magnus for a boy), answer my cellphone, spill wine and flee the restaurant after the first course, feigning illness.

Ashanti's Hip-Hop Formula

Rob Walker on Ashanti: “Her rap connection doesn't really affect her sound, which is grounded in R & B, so much as it does her persona. She's a sweet-voiced singer with the scrubbed good looks of a model, yet she has a kind of credibility in going toe-to-toe with swaggering gangstas that Britney and her pop tart knockoffs lack. Ashanti is the girl next door—but she only dates thugs.”

Intelligent people don't get laid

Zach Stroum: “What I'm getting at here, is that the reason some of the most intelligent people on the planet aren't getting laid, even though intelligence is supposed to be this attractive feature, is because they think themselves into the ground. I'm not exception to this one either. If I had a nickel every time I mentally defeated myself or gave off the stinky fumes of desperation, I'd have enough money to pay to get laid.”

Elite Colleges Don't Expect You To Pay

Peter Scheer: “The elite private colleges use gargantuan tuition to do what is usually thought to be the province of governments: redistribute wealth by 'taxing' the families of rich students in order to subsidize the less rich and the not rich. Like for-profit corporations, elite colleges engage in 'price discrimination,' applying different prices to different students in order to extract the most money that each student is willing and able to pay, explains Henry Hansmann, professor at Yale Law School and expert on charitable organizations. But unlike for-profit corporations, colleges engage in this quintessentially capitalist behavior in the service of an egalitarian ideal.”

3 Billion Folks

George Johnson: “If it ain't indigenous to us, it ain't worthwhile. If it ain't something we're good at, it don't exist. And we're so smug, so patronizing, that we don't even take time to wonder if maybe we might be wrong and the whole, wide rest of the world might just be right.”

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