Quote of the day, from Tom Friedman’s column in the Times today:
In China, Bill Gates is Britney Spears. In America, Britney Spears is Britney Spears.
In the column, he endorses Bill Cosby for President on condition that he talk as bluntly to white parents as he has to black parents: “Throw out your kids idiotic video games, shut off the TV, and get Johnny and Suzy to work.”
The nation-of-idiots theme is, I think, oversimplified, but on the next page of the Week In Review was another article, commenting on the microscopic sales of the novels nominated for the National Book Award this week. In Britain, the writer points out, the Booker Prize* “is a cultural event … the subject of radio and television commentary, even betting and the occasional pub fight.” One could argue the merits of recent N.B.A. winners versus winners of the Booker Prize, but it’s hard to imagine Americans having a bar fight over books of any stripe.
* I know the official name of this award now includes the name of a sponsoring corporation. I’m leaving it out on purpose.