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February 18, 2008


Donald Pittenger writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Herewith are two items on the internet that I found interesting and worth passing along.

* Talk show host / movie critic / author / columnist Michael Medved mentions here that, of the 43 U.S. presidents, only five had brown eyes. They were Andrew Johnson, Lyndon B. Johnson, John Quincy Adams, Chester A. Arthur and Richard Nixon -- hardly a stellar cast, he notes. Medved wasn't able to find the eye color for briefly-serving William Henry Harrison. He points out that blue, grey and hazel eye colors are vastly over-represented in the presidency compared to the population at large at various times in our history.

Fascinating, but I have no idea if it means anything.

* Jeff Jarvis took a small, utterly unscientific poll of his readership, asking which daily newspaper features ought to be eliminated in these times of retrenchment. The results are discussed here (scroll down to February 17th).

The top ten contenders for oblivion were:

Financial tables 43.06%
Sports section 21.65%
Sports columnists 8.00%
Entertainment section 3.76%
Movie critic 3.76%
Business section 2.59%
Syndicated features 2.59%
TV critic 2.59%
Music critic 1.88%
Book critic 1.65%

The big surprise was the sports section vote. I always thought that sports was a major reason why guys, at least, bought papers. It's possible that the people who voted were elitist intellectoids who disdain sports. (Full disclosure: I voted, but not to zap the sports section.) Jarvis wonders if sports might be covered by sports-only papers in the future. Surprisingly, Web-booster Jarvis didn't mention that the internet is already crawling with sports sites.

By the way, what would you zap?



posted by Donald at February 18, 2008


What wouldn't I zap?

A good test for whether or not anything should continue to exist: if it didn't exist, would anyone invent it? I'm not sure the "newspaper" does too well by this standard.

Posted by: Mencius on February 18, 2008 8:00 PM

In the early 1990's there was a nationally distributed sports-only newspaper called The National. Its backers figured that it would be successful because similar types of newspapers in Europe were highly popular, for instance L'Equipe in France. The idea didn't work too well and the paper went out of business after a year or so, if I recall correctly problems with respect to its distribution were the main reason behind its failure.

Posted by: Peter on February 18, 2008 8:10 PM

Gene Expression covered behavioral differences related to eye color some time back.

Blue eyes tend to be related to planning behavior, brown eyes with reactive actions. Brown eyed fighter pilots are also supposed to be pretty rare.

Posted by: Dylan on February 18, 2008 9:05 PM

Remember the TV show Omnibus, hosted by Alistair Cook? As the name states it could be and on successive weeks was about anything and everything. That's what I love about the paper, in my case the NY Post, and that's why I wouldn't eliminate any of the features listed.

Strangely, I hope not perversely, the only part of the paper I sometimes skip over is the newspaper, as in national and international, not local, news. I can pick that up so easily online that it's almost a redundancy in the paper.

There's a life's-a-banquet-and-a-different-page-a- different-course-quality the paper delivers that you can't get anywhere else. I like it that a hardboiled no nonsense sports columnist, Phil Mushnick, is a few pages away from Cindy Adams. Me, newspaper reader, renaissance man. ;^)

Posted by: ricpic on February 18, 2008 9:42 PM

Wow...more people want their critics than they want their sports? And book critic the most of all? I fear for this land.

I remember The National extremely fondly. I bought it every day till they folded. I don't think I would buy it now, though, since I've assembled it on My Yahoo, and I only read it when I want to / have time to. The odd thing is that none of the blowhards (note derogatory small b) that made up THE National are anywhere to be found on My National.

Posted by: Scott on February 18, 2008 11:36 PM

I am with Mencius on this one. I think that if North American politicans conspired to Ban Newspapers for the next 15 years, but allowing all other forms of communication, I am not sure anyone would then start a Newspaper in 2023.

And if they did, it would likely look nothing like what we have now.

And count me as one more person who would get the National. Does anyone else remember that they tried to have TWO editions EACH DAY. A morning paper and a night paper. I used to love the Evening edition, but you could not always find it. I think because they did not always make it.

Back to newspapers though. I think that if someone did start a newspaper in 2023 it would be more like a supplement to the online site.

Sort of like how the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times print actual books.

My guess is that they would be weekly editions, not daily.

Posted by: Ian Lewis on February 19, 2008 10:31 AM

I would vote out sports columnists if the purge was limited to the New York Times.

The poll appears legit as nobody voted to ax the comix.

Posted by: Sluggo on February 19, 2008 12:49 PM

I'd axe the girlie stuff.

Posted by: dearieme on February 19, 2008 1:49 PM

What's a "newspaper"? Oh, wait...I remember those!

Posted by: Charlton Griffin on February 19, 2008 9:08 PM

What to get rid of from the newspaper:

1) Dear Abby. It is not even Dear Abby. It is her daughter. What kind of joke is that. The new Dear Abby sucks a lot worse than the old Dear Abby. Should not the NT Times do a story on this? Are we going to do this on all columnists? Like we could just replace the Kristols and Brooks and Podhoretz's with their spawn. Hi, J Pod. Sounds like a recipe for disaster.

2) The community does this feature: community meaning minority students. The community learns to read. The community learns of the evils of smoking. The community receives mentorships to tell them they can be whoever or whatever they want to be. The community takes time out from blowing each others brains out to teach us about diversity. The community collects bottle tops to represent the Holocaust. The community learns of their rich mexican heritatge. Blah, blah, fucking blah. Who are these pathetic public service announcements aimed at? Certainly, we all know the COMMUNITY isn't even reading the newspaper or anything else for that matter.

3) The religion pages: My local paper didn't even mention the Archbishop of Cantebury's spiel on sharia law for Britain. It is all gay nuns, gay priests, gay wannabe priests, gay nuns who want to be priests and understanding Muslims -- never gay Muslims -- or Muslims who feel they are not being understood. Holy lack of lubricant. These stories are coming at you, religous folks -- ready or not.

4) The B+ list of celebrities who are constantly interviewed. "I got this part by accident, cuz I was going to do this, but that happened." "I really enjoyed working with (blank) even though, I thought they were going to be a shit, I have to say they were great cuz I need to work in this town again." "This part gave me an opportunity to represent all women..." "The only thing more boring than the intricacies or lack thereof -- of my thought process are this shitty sitcoms/movies we are talking about..."

5) The reporter is too busy to check obvious fact statements. You see this all the time. Govts., officials, business people -- they all make factual statements that could --in many cases -- be easily verified or disputed, but the reporter just feeds us the quotes. HEY, they don't pay me enough to do anything more than take dictation.

See More on Page 2


Posted by: sN on February 20, 2008 1:10 AM

About the presidents... If they just bend over then all have brown eyes!

Posted by: Joe on February 20, 2008 11:49 AM

If newspapers would just start being more objective in their approach instead of just being an outlet of whatever the current dogma is maybe they would attract more readers. They have to stop being politically correct, stop pandering to each group such as gays or women or minorities, and start being real reporters. They also have to stop going after sensational stories and the Hollywood gossip crap. I don't care if Britney Spears is pregnant with so and so's love child!

Posted by: Robert on February 20, 2008 11:56 AM

You may find similar results of you check for eye color in the head coaches and starting QB's for Super Bowl winners. Among QB's, of those I could determine, you have blue-eyed champs:

Bradshaw (4 wins)
Brady (3)
Aikman (3)
Montana (3)
Starr (2)
Griese (2)
Elway (2)
Staubach (2)
Young (2)
Len Dawson
Brad Johnson
Phil Simms

And brown-eyed champs:

Plunkett (2)
E. Manning
Doug Williams
Kurt Warner

Posted by: ben tillman on February 20, 2008 3:07 PM

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