The Spectacle of Apology
Politicians don't apologize out of guilt or sorrow or genuine remorse, writes Philip Kendicott. They apologize because they get caught.
Writing in the Washington Post, Kennicott offers an thoughtful analysis of Trent Lott's snowballing troubles over the last ten days. The incoming Senate majority leader did himself little good with the tepid apologies he issued after his apparent endorsement of Strom Thurmond's 1948 segregationalist bid for the White House, says Kennicott. Initial comments by Lott's spokesman seemed to blame listeners for willfully misinterpreting the senator's words. Later statements apologized only for a poor choice of words, and only to those sensitive souls who unreasonably took offense.
"His apologies have been, in many ways, more ambiguous than the words for which he is apologizing," writes Kennicott, who notes that the agonizing, involuntary and clearly insincere nature of public apologies is a large part of what makes them so compelling. In most cases, however, the ritual plays out without requiring any real atonement by the politician. "When enough apologies have been made...one's supporters rally behind the notion that the humiliation has gone on long enough," writes the Post staffer. "The public begins to feel sorry for the offender, not the people he offended."
Man Without Virtu
Only one thing could be dumber than buying a $20,000 cell phone: losing a $20,000 cell phone.
The New York Times Magazine recently featured the Virtu, designer Frank Nuovo's attempt to transform the cellular phone into a limited-edition luxury item comparable to a fine watch. The phone is sold exclusively in spartan "client suites" where sales personnel refer to the device -- basically a dressed-up Nokia -- as "the instrument," writes Mark Levine. Now comes word that one of the first buyers of the insanely overpriced doodad has managed to part company with it after only one week of ownership.
Professional drag-race driver Christian Rado took his wonderphone to a Orlando nightclub last weekend, reports Pamela Johnson in the Orlando Sentinel. "Sitting at the table, Rado took the thin, sleek phone out of its black leather case to call a friend in California," writes Johnson. "He placed it on the round table [and later] noticed the phone was missing." Though Rado may never recover his Virtu, he can take comfort in the admiration of local law enforcement officers. "That's a lot of phone," says an awestruck investigator.
Law Steps Down
The Boston Globe, which has led the way on the story of sexual abuse by Catholic priests, offers full coverage of Cardinal Bernard Law's resignation from the leadership of the Boston archdiocese.
The Master Profiler
An affectionate obituary of tenacious Los Angeles Times feature writer Bella Stumbo links to some of her most notable articles.
Mushy, Overcooked and Squishy
Tim Carvell reluctantly taste-tests 16 canned soups, for Slate.
Here Comes the Pelican?
The Pentagon is exploring the use of a mammoth airplane that flies over water at an altititude of 20 feet, reports Tom McNichol in Wired.
A Wave for the World
A Los Angeles vacuum repair store has an international cult following thanks to an in-store webcam, reports Leslee Komaiko in the Los Angeles Times.
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