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Armchair Sociology

LA Times Op Ed Ponders Jaycee Lee Dugard Memoir

The LA Times editorial board went ahead and shared some of the e-mail correspondence among its members that led to an opinion piece about the forthcoming memoir written by Jaycee Lee Dugard, the victim of 18 years of horrific sexual detainment. The internal debate about whether or not to publish a commentary about the tome, entitled A Stolen Life, turns out to be more interesting than the piece itself.

Wednesday’s Op Ed starts out by making the very valid points that Dugard does not need the money (she received a large settlement from the state of California) nor the attention. But it then weakly pivots to this contradictory conclusion:

We hope she makes a lot of money and puts it toward a life of the fulfillment and joy that she was denied for so long.

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Jewish Journal Sponsors AshleyMadison.com Debate

Last night at a Los Angeles area synagogue, Jewish Journal parent company editor-in-chief Rob Eshman moderated a panel discussion featuring Noel Biderman, founder and CEO of the controversial matchmaking service AshleyMadison.com, and Rabbi Mark Borovitz of Beit T’Shuvah. The online dating website allows anonymous users to facilitate extra-marital affairs and bills itself as “the most recognized name in infidelity.”

Biderman came to the event at the behest of Journal reporter Ilana Angel, who today reports on what went down. She applauds the Toronto based executive for accepting the invitation, but condemns his service and notes that the fact that he is Jewish seemed to add an extra layer of judgment to the proceedings:

There was hate in the room last night. You could feel the daggers digging into Noel and it was intense. I do not like the word hate, do not like to use it, and will not allow my son to use it. I don’t hate Noel, or hate AshleyMadison, but I was angered by the conversation…

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Newspaper Columnist Handicaps Kentucky Derby ‘D-List’

In the old days, major Hollywood film stars such as Jack Nicholson and Sylvester Stallone made a point of attending the Kentucky Derby. But as this Saturday’s 137th running looms, the celebrity pickings are once again pretty slim, part of a recent trend towards celebs of a reality TV pedigree.

Rich Copley, columnist with the Lexington Herald-Leader, delves into the matter with a professor of pop culture at Syracuse University and Access Hollywood producer Rob Silverstein. In a sense, it’s kind of surprising that the cast of Jersey Shore will not be there Saturday:

“We just got back from the royal wedding, and I think of the Derby in the same sort of way, as a pageant of style and fashion,” Silverstein says. “That’s what we come for. I’m not expecting to see 20 to 30 major celebrities.”

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Evan Rachel Wood Employs the Bisexuality PR Strategy

She didn’t invent it, that was Angelina Jolie. And she didn’t base a career on it, that was Tila Tequila. But Evan Rachel Wood has made good use of the bisexuality strategy to gain a bit of media attention. The following remarks in an interview with Esquire were all it took to land her a mention in damn near every publication in the country:

She says she’s feeling free and genuinely happy these days. “I’m up for anything. Meet a nice guy, meet a nice girl…”

This is the third such hint in the conversation, after that androgyny comment and saying she’d “marry” her Mildred Pierce costar Kate Winslet if she could.

You date women?

“Yes,” she says proudly, as if she was waiting to be asked.

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LA Times Called Out by Readers for Sexist Photo Flap

Last week, the National Book Critics Circle awarded “A Visit From the Goon Squad” by novelist Jennifer Egan its highly-touted prize for fiction. It was a huge honor for Egan’s work, but you really wouldn’t know it from glancing at the LA Times’ website. Alongside its writeup of the awards ceremony, the Times chose to run a shot of Jonathan Franzen–who’s novel “Freedom” was arguably the favorite to pick up the award–instead of Egan.

Times readers weren’t having it.

“Seriously? Seriously???,” one wrote. “The news is that literary darling Jonathan Franzen LOST an award, not that (talented but less well-known female) Jennifer Egan WON? Please spend a couple of minutes gazing into your editorial navels today and ask yourselves what happened.”

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Dennis Miller Praises New Rant King Charlie Sheen

Leave it to comedian-turned-radio-pundit Dennis Miller to fire back at Charlie Sheen with a reference as esoteric as many of those spewed by the embattled actor.

Appearing last night as he occasionally does on The O’Reilly Factor, the Santa Barbara resident revealed that he has been thoroughly enjoying the new king of going off on a rant, and compared Sheen to a deceased French playwright. “I find Sheen uproariously funny,” Miller raved. “I think he’s an absurdist supreme. I don’t think I’ve seen a farceur like this since Georges Feydeau at the turn of the 20th century with his plays…”


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Great: Andrew Breitbart and James O’Keefe Have Both Returned to Media Darling Status

Looks like James O’Keefe‘s latest prank has not only gotten NPR‘s president to resign, it’s gotten Andrew Breitbart back in the national spotlight. Breitbart was on Piers Morgan‘s show last night talking about his protege’s capers, and the left wing bias that prevents them from being properly acknowledged. We thought the Shirley Sherrod incident would finally send Breitbart to the media glue factory, but now he’s back galloping around like nothing happened–saying calculated, counterintuitive things like “the best coverage on this incident has been NPR. It’s been impeccable…I respect NPR more than you would actually think.” And he’s actually right about the bias against this latest O’Keefe prank.

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Spot.us Publishes Results of Its ‘Media Survey’ of Los Angeles

A couple of months ago, over the course of several weeks, Spot.us undertook a comprehensive survey of the Los Angeles media scene. Asking questions like, “Forgetting celebrity gossip, name something unique reporters in L.A. should focus on…” the non-profit journalistic upstart queried its readers about what kind of coverage this city is lacking, and what forms of media they’d like to see stories presented in.

After more than 500 respondents took part, the results are finally in and published on Spot.us’ site. The survey is pretty lengthy, worth taking a look at in full, but here’s what Spot.us readers came up with in answer to the aforementioned question of what they’d like to see covered.

The most common responses included transportation issues, air- and water-quality issues and the cultural, racial and ethnic diversity in the L.A. area. A noticeable contingency expressed interest in seeing stories about the city’s grassroots arts cultures and ethnic enclaves, and several mentioned being tired of celebrity coverage and wanting to see coverage of “regular” people. There were also a fair amount of responses about education and homelessness in L.A.

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The LA Times Brushes Off University of Colorado’s Critical Gaze

This morning, researchers at the University of Colorado released the results of a study that wasn’t nearly as enthusiastic about the LA Times‘ stories on “value-added” teacher scores as the Philip Meyer Award judges seemed to be. But don’t tell the LA Times that.

Over at Witness LA, Celeste Fremon notes that despite the harsh conclusions of university researchers, the Times’ writeup of the study seems to suggest the research “confirms” their findings.

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The eXiled’s ‘War Nerd’ Weighs in on Egyptian Riots

Fresno’s own Gary Brecher, otherwise known as the “War Nerd,” offers his unique take on the upsurge of violence in Egypt.

You can’t help thinking of Ancient Rome when you watch this riot video from Cairo. What you see is humans re-learning the lessons of ancient warfare. And they do it in a matter of minutes! I swear, this video had me more upbeat about the species than I’ve been for a long time. It’s not that we’ve lost our edge, we’re just rusty.

We still know how to do it. First rule: mass wins. You get your side together and stay together. Second: deploy skirmishers. Those are the hotheads throwing rocks about 30 feet ahead of the main mob. They’re to provoke the enemy, absorb the enemy’s first counterstrike. It’s a suicide job, so it’s a favorite in the male age 12-20 demographic.

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