What’s so bad about looking

What’s so bad about looking good?
: You have to love the hooha over the “sexy” Paula Zahn commercial.

I see this as a very hopeful sign:

Perhaps this is the indication that we have finally arrived in the post-PC world where we can finally just say what we think. If someone looks good, what’ s the harm in saying it? What’s the harm in looking? What’s the harm in getting ahead because of it? What’s the harm in just telling the truth about it? Sexy is good. Good-looking is good.

This is the world where Howard Stern is king. And it’s a fine world. As they said on West Wing last night, what we need right now is a little more honesty.

Maureen Dowd was honest about it this week: Of course people are hired on TV because they look good. The Atlanta Journal Constitution, in CNN’s backyard, admits this, too. I admitted it a few weeks ago when I said I’m happy that NBC hired Nora O’Donnell; she’s a damned good reporter but she also looks great on camera and they were smart to grab her from print. Ashleigh Banfield is this war’s distaff version of the Scud Stud and it’s time we got a little equal opportunity there. What’s wrong with any of this? It’s OK to look good on TV. It’s a looking medium.

In the bygone PC era — still alive on National Public Radio — people with speech impediments are hired to talk. That drives me nutty. This is radio. It’s your job to talk. It’s your job to sound better than anybody else. It’s OK if radio hires the people who sound the best. But NPR must think that would be un-PC, so it seems they go out of their way not to hire people with good voices. That would be like not giving Paula Zahn a good job or promoting her because she looks good. That would be silly.

: I know I’ll get brickbats for this, but here is just one example of why I’ve long thought that libertarians are crackpots. It’s a rather embarrassing libertarian argument that, gee, what’s so wrong with incest that we should have laws against it? Well, because society has norms and laws enforce those norms and that’s what makes us civilized. No, we don’t enforce some extreme version of made-up morality like the Taliban. We enforce commonly accepted standards for proper behavior: don’t kill, don’t sleep with your relatives, don’t steal. Reasonable laws and rules reached through democratic process are not bad things; they are the hallmarks of civilization. Sheesh.

: More libertarian lampooning from William Quick.

He IS human!
: So good to see that superposter Glenn Reynolds is human and does have a life: “I’ve got to teach Constitutional Law this afternoon, so you won’t be hearing any more from me for a while,” he said, apologetically this afternoon. One hour and six minutes later, he did post again. And posted. And posted.

: Make that two hours and six minutes. Layne and I can’t add or subtract. This is why I’m nowhere near the academe.

Charity begins at home
: A survey says that 75 percent of Americans gave charitably somehow after 9/11.

Taking bullets for the boss
: A very good post from Thomas Nephew on Tom “Do Nothing” Ridge:

Jeff Jarvis, Ken Layne and others complain that Tom Ridge isn’t doing anything. Jarvis has a poll asking, “Is Tom Ridge doing his job?” I’d say “Of course!” It seems to me the Office of Flak-catching Defense — excuse me, Homeland Defense — is working precisely as it was designed to. You want progress, get after his boss.

: I just saw Ridge on Fox News (my new favorite channel) talking about Olympic security. His mere wardrobe shows that he doesn’t get it: Polo shirt under casual tweed jacket before a cozy fireplace. He should look like his boss and colleagues on the cover of Vanity Fair, all grey-suited sternness. An unfair nitpick? Of course. But if he can’t get the substance you’d think he’d at least get the style.

One or two attacks
: In an arcane but expensive argument over the insurance coverage for the World Trade Center attacks, the landlord is insisting it was two attacks (yielding two payments) but the insurers are arguing, of course, that it was one attack (one payment). Their current argument in court, via Newsday, is that one jet would have brought down both towers (which goes to their argument on one attack v. two) since the two towers shared a basement foundation and balanced each other. This brings new nightmares to mind: What if one tower collapsed and then the foundation of the other gave way — would the second tower collapse straight down or would it fall over, causing much more damage and death? If bin Laden had succeeded in bringing down the WTC in his first bombing there, is this what would have happened?

They call it fiction for a reason
: Pardon my former-TV-critic ghosts arising… Last night’s West Wing was an exercise in wishful thinking — charming, perhaps, but a light-year from reality. It was the creators’ wish for how the Clinton scandals had turned out. They had the Republican scandal-mongers in Congress backing down (fat chance) in part out of sympathy to save the reputation of a Presidential aide (fatter chance) and promising to drop everything if the President would just allow a Congressional resolution to go through criticizing the President for lying about his MS; the President goes along (equally fat chance) because he knows he may not have lied but he was wrong and it’s time for leaders to show moral leadership. Wouldn’t that be a wonderful world? Let’s move the capital to L.A., the land of morality and humanity, the land of fantasy.

Ghost train
: A chilling picture on the front page of the NY Post today: an empty PATH train uncovered 65 feet below ground-level at Ground Zero.

The price of happiness
: Via Metafilter, the Guardian’s Neil McIntosh has a scoop on the future of blogger: a premium service. Obviously, since I’m pushing that below, I’ll pay up (and, apparently, get a bargain; I’d charge more; this is the service I use more than any other online):

Here’s a little Onlineblog.com exclusive: it’s the beginning of the end of free at Blogger. I’ve just been interviewing Evan Williams, brains behind Blogger.com, the weblog site which powers this and hundreds of thousands of other blogs. I’d dragged him away from development of Blogger’s first premium service: fast-responding servers. Blogger, as Jack’s posting below suggests, has been under great strain since October, when the US terrorist attacks prompted a surge in people wanting to create their own weblogs. Now Evan plans to start building up a premium service: in the next few hours, he’ll launch a $30-a-year membership scheme, which will offer faster and more reliable service. The free Blogger will remain, but other – quite compelling – premium services will be rolled out quick-fire after that.