And More News…

The Judge Alito hearings have been interesting, I daresay. He may not be as slick as Ch. Justice Roberts, but he has various responses (or non-substantive responses, but they’re far more interesting than his opening statement). Dahlia Lithwick in Slate continues to be quite amusing, I daresay, regarding the Alito hearings. (from what I watched on tonight’s “Newshour” on PBS, she isn’t entirely wrong, either).

Reliever Bruce Sutter got into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Scary story: woman died smothered by her own clutter. Uh, reminders of how I have yet to fulfill my New Year’s resolution of cutting my clutter!

Time magazine has some good stuff in this week’s issue: a profile on Judge Alito; going to Pluto (which may or may not be a “planet”); and a profile on Asian-Americans (like, about time, Time!).

Phantom of the Opera really is the longest running Broadway show? Wow – I never thought anything would overcome Cats.

Clever by Half

On the return of Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report” from winter vacation, the first word on its daily feature “The WØRD” was celebrated as the American Dialect Society’s 2005 Word of the Year: truthiness – “the quality of preferring concepts or facts one wishes to be true, rather than concepts or facts known to be true”. I guess it is composed of “truthy” [truly likely] + -ness [the quality of being]. We do need a word for this concept, because similar words like “doublespeak”, “delusion”, or “duplicity” don’t quite get the innocent longing feeling or ironic contempt that “truthiness” possesses.


So, in the news…

The North Star has a companion star.

Apparently, even though black holes are incredibly powerful, a one-way trip into a black hole still takes 200,000 years. Boy, does that make me feel relieved to know it’s not that easy to get sucked into a black hole. (well, my understanding is that you may still not pull away from it, but at least oblivion’s pretty far away).

Over-the-counter cough syrups aren’t terribly effective. Except for Robitussin, apparently. Well, good for the makers of Robitussin, I guess. (I’ll have to say from experience that it does seem to work).

The study of the extinct poor dodo.

I caught a bit of the PBS Newshour’s coverage of the Judge Alito hearing. Judge Alito’s speech was a bit curious. (I just thought Slate had a funny read). Based on what I could tell of his speech on tv, he had a nice childhood, a respect for traditions and law and so on. Regarding his personal past, he seemed to have loved the intellectual part of his undergraduate years, but not the socio-political craziness of the times, or at least that of the bright but not so-values-oriented nature of his classmates. Umm, okay. Washington Post has an interesting coverage of Judge Alito’s early years.

And, I wished “Nightline” had more coverage of the Alito hearings. Instead, it did its usual three story coverage (along with the Alito hearings, there was an update on Ariel Sharon’s condition) and closed with Terry Moran (who I think could make a pretty good host, if they didn’t have to saddle him with McFadden and Bashir) and a human interest story on a pet detective.

NY Times’ Alessandra Stanley seems to think that the new anchors of ABC World News Tonight aren’t too shabby. She seems to feel that it’s good for Liz Vargas to gain authority (what we’d all like to see in an anchor), and that making one anchor (currently Bob Woodruff) the roving anchor makes for less chemistry:

Ms. Vargas, who had been alternating with Mr. Woodruff since their appointment was announced in December, looked poised and crisply comfortable in the role, though she anchored the news standing in front of a transparent desk that made her look a little like Snow White, freshly risen from her glass coffin.

If Mr. Woodruff minded looking like a second fiddle in his first week on the job, he didn’t show it. He didn’t even wince when Ms. Vargas referred to him as “my co-anchor,” which, while accurate, sounded slightly highhanded – a little like a local television reporter who refers on the air to “my cameraman.”

Change on any network newscast can be unsettling and over-scrutinized. But so far, ABC’s bold decision doesn’t seem very earthshaking. Anchors have lost what the CBS chairman Leslie Moonves once referred to as voice-of-God status. Both Mr. Woodruff and Ms. Vargas are fine in the job: good-looking, highly polished and competent. It’s hard to see how they will broaden the demographics of “World News Tonight”; neither can be considered a youth magnet. But they are not likely to offend the program’s older viewers.

It’s probably safe now to pull down what Clark Gable referred to in “It Happened One Night” as the Wall of Jericho and let the co-anchors work in the same room together. Sparks are unlikely to fly.

I also have to agree: the studio furniture that ABC has for their on-air staff looks a little too ultra-modern and weird.