Friday, June 26, 2009

I Miss C-Style Switch Statements

It took me about a year to fully warm up to C# after years of unmanaged C++ in the COM/Win32 world. Now I'm at a point where I love it. But there is one thing about it that drives me nuts: Microsoft no longer lets you have "fall-through" control transfer between case clauses inside a switch statement. You have to have every case paired with an explicit break, even if it doesn't make logical sense. This means that now I have to do a lot of if...else if...else if...else-type constructions to get the desired control flow, when a C-style switch statement would've been the most elegant thing. *sigh*

Friday, June 5, 2009

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Ruthless Reviews Gets It Right!

This site used to be awesome. I discovered it in 2002, and it just blew my socks off with its combination of extreme left-wing political opinion (although paradoxically mixed with some unaccountable misogyny), high IQ, creativity, and lazy editing.

Starting around 2006 they experienced a slump, but it seems like they've been getting better over the last 6 months or so. But this bit, about the recent Tiller assassination, is the best bit of commentary they've done in years. Bravo.

Monday, June 1, 2009

David Frum Just Keeps Getting Better

I became a David Frum fan last year, after not liking him very much initially. This recent article proves that, in the Civil Cold War (aka the post-election Republican Party infighting between the Southern wingnuts and everyone else), he's fighting for the North. Kudos.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Interesting View of Obama's Pragmatism

The fact that I can't quite figure out what the editors of the Christian Science Monitor want, believe, or think is part of why I tend to like their pieces. This is a good guest editorial that, while structured as a criticism of Obama's M.O., illuminates for me exactly what I like about him. It's written well in any case.

My favorite line: [Obama] presumes that policies forged by reason, evidence, and "unbiased" expertise (Pragmatism 1) – those policies that "work" – will garner the support of all reasonable members of Congress and thus bridge partisan divides (Pragmatism 2).

What an unreasonable way to operate! Obama is a "evidence fundamentalist"!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Obama-Era Pelosi = Pre-Obama-Era Clinton

Apparently American reactionaries require there to be one highly visible white female in Washington on whom they can focus their irrational loathing. Before Obama got elected, that woman was Hillary Clinton. I was always amazed at how much the wingnuts despised Hillary, but more to the point, how transparently their hatred was simply an inversion of their sexist fear.

But things have changed -- Clinton is now part of Obama's cabinet, and by siding with Obama, she finally finds herself in America's good graces. All the non-Democrats who voted for Obama --moderates who have fled the Republican party since Limbaugh took over as RNC chairman, and independents* -- who, to their credit, just can't reconcile the cognitive dissonance resulting from the simultaneous claims that "Obama is doing a good job" and "Hillary is a shrill power-hungry feminazi crypto-lesbian bitch" -- feel an aching void where their cowering hatred of Hillary used to be.

But now there's Nancy Pelosi!

Granted, Pelosi was a Republican whipping-boy ("whipping-girl" just sounds too overtly S&M for its intended meaning to come through) ever since she assumed the Speakership, but this recent CIA torture bullshit has proved to be the spark igniting the powderkeg. All those disenfranchised Hillary haters finally have a new, competent, politician with a powerful office and a vagina, all at the same time, on whom they can unload their loathing.

I'm not a fan of Pelosi -- to be honest, I am utterly neutral toward Pelosi. There are plenty of folks on the left end of the political spectrum who would dispute my having called her "competent," and I can see why. But I can recognize when ostensibly neutral political maneuvering is being used to disguise misogynistic fear. Hang in there, Nance.

* There are two kinds of people who claim to be "independent" -- (a) informed people who have their own idiosyncratic set of principles that doesn't completely align with either party, and (b) clueless people who feel guilty about never having paid enough attention to politics to figure out what their principles are, but don't want to risk painting themselves into a conversational corner by arbitrarily claiming to agree with one party over the other.

How Will They Spin This One?

More amazingly bad behavior on the part of the world's oldest multinational corporation. Even more amazing to think that they think they have the monopoly on human goodness. I've said it before and I'll say it again: fuck Catholicism and fuck the Pope. I concede that the Vatican served some valid purposes in the course of human development, but it has long since outlived that usefulness. I eagerly look forward to its eminently timely death.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Sheep In Wolves' Clothing

I'd like to make a special shout-out to those of you who drive black or navy Crown Victorias or Dodge Chargers, yet aren't police officers:


Get a civilian car, you Macdonald Triad bitches.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Kary Mullis, Global Warming, Deicide Bombing: A Parable of Inducing Opinion Reconsideration

This post likened atheism to a product for sale in the marketplace of belief systems, and the analogy was helpful to a certain extent. But lately I've been thinking that "marketing" is the wrong approach. Marketing is the kind of thing that induces people to raise their guard. In the end, most people's purchasing decisions are guided by factors other than the products' marketing.

What I've really been searching for is a way to make people change their minds; I've been trying to understand the process by which people adopt beliefs. And I think I've figured out a way to reverse, or at least combat, the indoctrination tactics used by organized religion, thanks to a recent experience in which I was prompted to doubt one of my own beliefs.

One of my first posts on this blog was about global warming, and the philosophical meat of it was essentially that scientists as a whole have too much at stake to ever engage in a wilful conspiracy, which is what global warming skeptics accuse them of. But my faith in this belief was weakened recently by a TED video, Nobel Prize-winner Kary Mullis talking about the nature of science. Mullis was speaking extemporaneously, so be prepared for some false starts and improvisatory sentence structures; I've transcribed a large section of the talk here, but emphasized the important parts via italics and larger font size:

Naturally honest, and naturally inquisitive, and that sort of leads to that kind of science. All scientists aren't like that, you know? A lot's been going on since Isaac Newton and all that stuff happened. One of the things that happened right around World War II, government realized, look scientists aren't strange dudes that hide in ivory towers and do ridiculous things with test tubes, scientists made WWII as we know it quite possible. They made faster things, they made bigger guns to shoot 'em down with, they made drugs to give the pilots if they were broken up in the process, they made all kinds of ... one giant bomb to end the whole thing. And everybody stepped back a little and said, you know, we ought to invest in this shit. Because whoever has got the most of these people working in the best places is going to have a dominant position at least in the military and probably in all kind of economic ways and they got involved in it, and the scientific-industrial establishment was born, and out of that came a lot of scientists who were in there for the money, because it was suddenly available. And they weren't the curious little boys that liked to put frogs up in the air, they were the same people that later went into medical school, yknow, because there was money in it, and then they all got into business. I mean, there're waves of going in to your high school [guidance] person [who] says "Wanna be rich? Be a scientist." Not anymore; you wanna be rich [now], you be a businessman. But a lot of people got in it for the money, and the power, and the travel. . . . Those people don't always tell you the truth. There is nothing in their contract, in fact, that makes it to their advantage always to tell you the truth. The people I'm talking about are . . . . the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. And they have these big meetings where they try to figure out, how are we gonna continually prove that the planet is getting warmer? When that's actually contrary to most people's sensations. If you actually measure the temperature over a period, i mean the temperature's been measured pretty carefully for about fifty sixty years longer than that but in really nice precise ways and records have been kept for fifty or sixty years and in fact the temperature hasn't really gone up. The average temperature has gone up a tiny little bit because the nighttime temperatures at weather stations have come up just a little bit. But there's a good explanation for that. The weather stations are all built outside of town where the airport was, and now the town's moved out there, there's concrete all around, and they call it the "skyline effect," and most responsible people who measure temperatures realize you have to shield your measuring device from that and even then -- you know, because the buildings get warm in the daytime and they keep it a little warmer at night. So the temperature has been sort of inching up, it should have been, but not a lot. Not like -- you know, the first guy who got the idea that we were gonna fry ourselves, he didn't think of it that way, his name was Svarnte Arhenius, he was Swedish, and he said, if you double the CO2 level in the atmosphere -- this was in 1900 -- the temperature ought to go up about 5.5 degrees. He was thinking the earth is kinda like a completely insulated thing with no stuff in it, just energy comin' down, energy leaving. He came up with this theory, and he said, this'll be cool, because it'll mean a longer growing season in Sweden. And the surfers thought it was a cool idea. But a lot of other people later on started thinking it would be bad. But nobody actually demonstrated it. The temperature as measured -- and you can find this on our wonderful internet, just look for all NASA's records and all the weather bureau's records, and to look at it yourself and see -- the temperature has just -- the nighttime temperature measured on the surface of the planet has gone up a tiny little bit, so if you just average that with the daytime temperature it looks like it went up about 0.7 degrees in this century, but in fact. . . the daytime temperatures DIDN'T go up. And Arhenius's theory, along with all the global warmers, they would say, yeah, it should go up in the daytime too, if it's a greenhouse effect. Now, people like things that have names that they can envision, but people don't... get all excited about things like the actual evidence: "Evidence for Strengthening of the Tropical Circulation in the 1990s" [or] a paper that came out in February, "Evidence for Large Decadal Variability In the Tropical Mean Radiative Energy Budget." Those papers were published by NASA and some scientists at Columbia . . . and those two papers were published in Science magazine, February the 1st, and the conclusion in both of these papers. . . is that our theories about global warming are completely wrong. What these guys were doing, and NASA people have been saying this for a long time, that if you measure the temperature of the atmosphere, it isn't going up. It's not going up at all. We've been doing it very carefully for the last twenty years, from satellites, and it isn't going up. And, in this paper, they showed something much more striking. They did what they call a radiation -- I'm not gonna go into details of it, actually it's quite complicated, but it isn't as complicated as they might make you think it is by the words they use in those papers. If you really get down to it, they say, the sun puts out a certain amount of energy, we know how much that is, it falls on the earth, the earth gives back a certain amount, when it gets warm, it generates redder energy, like infrared. The whole business of the global warming trash, really, is that if there's too much CO2 in the atmosphere, the heat that's trying to escape wont be able to get out, but the heat that's coming from the sun, which is mostly down in the 350nm [range] is where it's centered, that goes right through CO2, so you still get heated but you don't dissipate any. Well these guys measured all those things. I mean, you can talk about that stuff and you can write these large reports and you can get government money to do it, but these guys actually measured it and it turns out that in the last ten years -- that's why [the paper] say[s] "decadal" there -- the level of what they call "imbalance" has been way the hell over what was expected. The amount of imabalance -- meaning heat's coming in and not going out -- that you would get from having double the CO2, which -- we're not anywhere near that, by the way, but if we did, in 2025 or something have double the CO2 we had in 1900 -- they say it would increase the energy budget by about -- in other words, one watt per square centimeter more would be coming in than going out, so the planet should get warmer. Well, they found out in this study -- these two studies, by two different teams -- that five and a half watts per square [centi]meter have been coming in, 1998, 1999, and the place didn't get warmer, so the theory's kaput. These papers should've been called "The End to the Global Warming Fiasco." But they're concerned, you can tell they have very guarded conclusions in these papers because they're talking about big laboratories that are funded by lots of money and by scared people. If they said, you know what, there isn't a problem with global warming any longer, so we can -- y'know, if you start a grant request with something like "global warming hadn't actually happened." They have to be very cautious, but what I'm saying is, YOU can be delighted, because the editor of "Science" who is no dummy, and both of these really professional teams, have come to the same conclusion and the bottom lines in their papers they have to say, what this means is, what we've been thinking, the global circulation model that would predict that the earth is going get overheated is all wrong. It's wrong by a large factor, not by a small one. There's obviously some mechanisms going on that nobody knew about, because the heat's coming in and it isn't getting warmer. . . . Some science is done for other reasons than just curiosity, and there's a lot of things like global warming and ozone hole and a whole bunch of scientific public issues that if you're interested in them, you have to get down into the details and read the papers called "Large Decadal Variability in the Tropic--" you have to figure out what all those words mean, and if you just listen to the guys who are hyping those issues and making a lot of money at it, you'll be misinformed.

When I listen to conservative pundits question the reality of anthropogenic global warming, it's easy for me to dismiss. But when I heard Kary Mullis do it, it was not possible for me to dismiss. Kary Mullis is at least something of an authority -- dude won the Nobel Prize for foundational biochemistry work -- who I also perceive as being in my "group" (TED). Conservative pundits lack authority on the subject and even if they didn't, I don't perceive them as being in my "group." That's just human nature; part of how we adopt ideas is by seeing whether people we look up to endorse them. Even though I know that scientific knowledge can be independently validated by anyone in principle, in practice it is much easier to simply take the word of an agreed-upon expert.

If another agreed-upon expert comes along and contradicts the first, that creates doubt. For beliefs in which the doubter has little invested (like whether one still needs to change a vehicle's oil every 3000 miles), the doubt alone can be enough to dislodge the belief from the doubter's mind. For beliefs in which the doubter has much invested, on the other hand, the doubt has a much longer climb ahead of it. The engines of denial will be working overtime to cope with it through various false strategies -- anger or righteous indignation or passive/aggressive philosophical rationalizing -- so the doubt must be the residue of some especially emotionally impressive event. In my experience there is no more emotionally impressive event than a trusted, even loved, benevolent authority figure flatly declaring, in public, "I was wrong."

At 6:36 in this video the following exchange takes place between Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris:

DAWKINS: Dan Barker's making a collection of clergymen who've lost their faith but don't dare say so because it's their only living -- it's the only thing they know how, what to do.

HARRIS: Yeah. I've heard from one of them, at least.

DAWKINS: Have you?


According to a 2002 article in the UK's Telegraph, as many as one third of British clergy fall into this category. As far as I can tell, such figures are unavailable for American clergy. My guess is that the percentage is lower, but the raw number is higher.

I wonder what would happen if one of these clergymen "came out"? He would lose his job, certainly -- but what would the effects be on individual members of his flock? He is ideally positioned to influence their opinions on this subject: a designated authority on God and spirituality who they perceive as being "on their side" or "in their group." This is the kind of person who marries people, confirms their children, speaks at their parents' funerals, helps them get through dark times, or otherwise forms meaningful bonds with people. Imagine if such a figure were to lay it all on the line in front of 300 followers and say "Look, this is bullshit, wake up." Imagine if his sermon told the story of his own journey from religious believer to atheist, letting them know it's OK to leave it all behind.

That would be quite something. You could almost call it a "conceptual suicide bombing." But it would be even cooler to call it a "deicide bombing."

Al Qaeda and other organizations that rely on real suicide bombing set aside a sizeable portion of their budget to compensate the families of suicide bombers after their martyrdom.

Wouldn't it be great if atheists formed a non-profit that provided economic relief to deicide bombers in the same way Al Qaeda takes care of its suicide bombers' kin?

I'm looking to talk to people in three industries: (a) professional religious orators who have secretly lost their faith and are intimidated by the prospect of switching careers in midlife, (b) people with experience in educational finance, i.e. setting up and/or running scholarship/grant programs, and (c) people with experience in setting up and/or running nonprofits or charities. Eventually, after enough conversations, I'll have a clear idea of what it would take to create a nonprofit organization called Deicide Bombers, Inc. I already have the domain name reserved.

Here's how it would work, at a very high level: a closeted atheist clergyman publicly comes out as an atheist, before his flock, as his final sermon. Volunteers videotape this and upload it to YouTube. The clergyman gets fired, presumably without any kind of severance package. Deicide Bombers, Inc. works with various universities, scholarships, educational grant programs, and other collegiate funding sources to procure a free Ivy League education for this clergyman. Everything would be covered -- tuition, housing, books.

There would be a few details to work out. The clergyman would have to consent to having his tax records during the time he was employed by the church audited by an accountant retained by Deicide Bombers, Inc. This would be to ensure that total compensation is commensurate with the clergyman's original church salary: if there isn't parity here, it will lend the religious opposition credence when they argue that the only reason people are willingly engaging in deicide bombing is for the money.

The Deicide Bombers, Inc. organization would need to come up with some broad guidelines for the clergyman in preparing his coming-out sermon. The sermon must be authentically from the heart -- it must be written in the clergyman's own voice, sharing his or her own journey from "person of faith," through the beginnings of doubt, all the way to atheism. Once both parties sign off on the text of the sermon, a date is set.

The date would be disseminated to a sort of closed-circuit social network of volunteers who would have to be willing to, with at least one week's notice, drive to any random church or other religious building in their area at which one of these deicide bombings was scheduled to occur. These volunteers would converge on the site prior to the worship service and set up video or audio recording devices to make sure there is at least one video documenting the delivery of the coming-out sermon.

Once the "martyrdom" has taken place, the coming-out sermon, all recordings, and all supporting financial and contractual documentation are all uploaded to the web for the public to see -- and the martyr gets set up with a free shot at starting over. An intellectual get-out-of-jail-free card.

Total openness (after the fact) is the key to making this work. Religious authorities will immediately claim that the only reason anyone is agreeing to deicide bombing is for the money. Deicide Bombers, Inc. would need to be able to refute such a claim instantly. It would calibrate its stipend and scholarship packages so that it constitutes a purely lateral move, salary-wise, and publish all the documentation required to prove that. Essentially they would provide the severance package that the clergyman's own church will not, and maybe some scholarship money to help switch careers, but that's it.

So, is there anybody out there who has a clue how to actually get this going? I'd love to pick your brain.

Friday, February 20, 2009


I am a huge fan of ABC's Lost. In certain respects, it is utterly conventional television: nearly every character is white (the only black or Latino cast members have been either killed or exiled from the island), every single female character is played by a stunning perfect-10 type, and the only female character without ludicrous pulchritude, Rose, is also the only non-white character who's still alive, although this is mostly a by-product of her being saddled with another American pop-culture trope, the Magical Negro. So it goes.

On one level, I think the writers are simply playing a game amongst themselves to see how much complexity can be revealed gradually over time. The X-Files broke new ground because it made clear from the outset that it was going to have a broad scope -- a story that affects the fate of the entire world. Lost is breaking new ground because, although it, too, tells a story that affects the fate of the entire world, that fact was not at all made clear from the outset. At the outset it looked like it was going to be a tropical version of Alive.

Around the end of the second season and the beginning of the third season (we are now about 7 or 8 episodes into the fifth season) I began to think about a possible explanation for what was going on in Lost. There are entire web sites devoted to fans presenting such theories and interactively critiquing them. I never published mine on one of these boards, but I did mention it to a few people.

I began to wonder if the point of the show was to put us, the American audience, in the role of reviled foreign terrorists. In this arrangement, "The Others" -- who live on "their island" with an orderly, courteous, regimented, productive social structure, yet at the same time seem perfectly content to be left alone on "their island" and exhibit no curiosity about anything off the island -- represent us, the American audience. And the substance of the plot consists of these "Others" systematically imprisoning, torturing, murdering, abducting, seducing, manipulating, and deceiving this ragtag band of protagonists. There were even shades of 9/11 in the fact that the way the Others are first made aware of the protagonists is by their arrival on a crashing plane. Over time we learn that the most frightening thing about the Others is their righteousness; their certainty that their cause is of such transcendentally greater purpose than you mere non-Others could ever imagine.

My confidence in this theory began to wane when the show introduced "the flash-forward of doom" at the end of Season 3, which established that some of the characters would in fact be able to leave the island. It seemed to me like the entirety of the action would have to play out on the island if my conjecture were to be strengthened.

Then the most recent episode aired, and my faith in the "we're the terrorists" hypothesis was renewed:

At this point in the story, a subset of the original plane crash's survivors -- the "Oceanic Six" -- have managed to get off the island, leaving some of their compatriots behind. They have been persuaded by "the Others" to return to the island. A mysterious woman somehow affiliated with "the Others" tells them that the only way to get back to the island is to get on another plane, this one going from L.A. to Guam, and for reasons having to do with "strong electromagnetic currents flowing throughout the earth" or something, this plane will also crash on the island. So they have to do the whole plane-crash thing over again, except this time they'll know what's going to happen.

This leads us to an extraordinary sequence in which, one by one, the "Oceanic Six" board this commercial airliner, and each gets this look on his or her face of rapturous anticipation, complete with lingering camera pans underscored with lush strings. These people are finally doing something they've thought about for a long time. They are united in purpose and conviction. They know they are going to crash, but are unafraid because they view the crash simply as a gateway to something wonderful beyond. A brief exchange of dialogue even makes it clear that they are aware, and simply don't care, that non-good things are going to happen to the other passengers on the plane.

These are the people that we have come to identify with over the last four seasons, yet they are shown boarding a commercial jet in the exact same emotional frame of mind that the nineteen Al Qaeda hijackers presumably were in on the morning of 9/11. The whole show has been leading up to a moment in which we are given a glimpse into what it must have felt like to be one of those suicide operatives. It's a profoundly creepy experience.

It's worth noting that, even if my conjecture is totally wrong, Lost could probably never have been made without 9/11 having happened first. Before 9/11, plane crashes were among the worst things people could think of. After 9/11, having a jet crash merely by accident into something that wasn't a crowded urban building seemed positively quaint. Before 9/11, pitching the Lost story would have been like pitching a prime-time sitcom about child molestation.

The other thing I'm loving about Lost is that the writers seem to have been profoundly influenced by one of my favorite books, Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco. The idea that the island can continuously move from one "pocket of strong electromagnetic energy" to another seems very similar to Eco's notion of "telluric currents" that, when properly harnessed and controlled, can remake the geography of the earth, and do in a few seconds what would take natural forces millions of years to do.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

An Unusually Perceptive DailyKos Post

This is the kind of political writing I like. Let's talk about the systemic flaws that prevent us from making good policy, as opposed to hurling canned arguments about specific issues at each other.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Movie Roundup

In the last few months I've been very impressed by two psychological thrillers, each very different from the other but both quite excellent in their attention to character. Psychological thrillers used to rely on psychology to thrill us, but the James Wan generation of directors abuse the word "psychological" just as a way to put cardboard-cutout characters into bizarre and improbable situations. I love a good cinematic mindfuck as much as the next person, but if you don't have any insight into the minds on screen getting fucked, it all seems kind of pointless and contorted in the end. (This is the way a vocal minority felt about The Usual Suspects, although I loved it.)

2008's Transsiberian, written and directed by Brad Anderson and starring Woody Harrelson and Emily Mortimer among others, is set on the cross-continental railroad of the same name, and involves heroin traffickers, marital secrets, guilt, and Ben Kingsley with a kick-ass Russian accent. 3.5 out of 4 stars from Ebert, for those who care what he thinks.

2006's Bug, adapted from some play but directed on the screen by William Friedkin, starring Ashley Judd (!) and some dude I'd never heard of named Michael Shannon, was absolutely amazing. Just a vicious, devilish, perverse, but always believable ride. I haven't often been truly frightened or horrified by a movie, but this one did it. And there's very little violence (although what little there is disturbs). Also 3.5 out of 4 stars from Ebert.

Also, I had the opportunity to see The Golden Compass on pay-per-view. This was the so-called "atheist movie" that had the characteristically open-minded and well-informed Catholics up in arms. Not surprisingly, the fans of the British series of books on which the film was based were upset that not enough of author Philip Pullman's atheist message survived the translation from page to screen.

From my point of view, I thought the film was ideologically heavy-handed, but along much more environmental lines than atheistic ones. No explicit mention is ever made of God or belief or anything else, and the metaphorical attempt to depict mankind's better nature as a physical substance -- the mysterious Dust -- seemed less like a shot at God than a shot at people who don't believe global warming is real.

The large, oppressive bureaucratic villain -- the Magisterium -- presumably was a stand-in for the Catholic Church in the books, but in the film seems like a reasonable representative of multinational oil companies. When Daniel Craig ruffles the Magisterium's feathers early in the film by presenting concrete proof of Dust's existence, I took that as a metaphor for the eventual day of reckoning in which even the staunchest climate-change denier is confronted with irrefutable proof of anthropocentric global warming.

That, plus the fact that half the film takes place in the Arctic, with Scottish-brogued CGI polar bears in armor (don't ask) playing out the intrigues of their own moribund ursine kingdom, just left me with a very "environmentaly" vibe.

I'm tempted to read the books, but it takes a lot to get me to read fiction lately. We'll see. Ebert gave the movie 4 out of 4 stars, which seems a tad generous to me; 3 seems more reasonable. I also found it interesting that, while some saw The Golden Compass as the ideological antidote to the first installment of the Narnia Chronicles (with its thinly veiled retelling of the Christ story), both films essentially fetishize youthful innocence at the expense of adulthood, knowledge, and experience, which apparently Philip Pullman found very irritating and was one of the precise things his books were trying to stamp out.

Those damn atheists are never happy.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Vagus Vagaries

I must refer you to a recent post on Roger Ebert's blog. I absolutely love it because I'm a huge fan of Ebert, and in this piece he writes (in part) about Jonathan Haidt, another person I'm a huge fan of. (Just ignore the horrific photo of Oprah Winfrey that, for some unfathomable reason, he chose to include.)

It's debatable whether film criticism is a form of journalism, but if it is, then Roger Ebert has succeeded Edward R. Murrow as the most eloquent journalist in America.