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College football, the NFL, gay superheroes, Star Wars, Trent Lott, and more.

11:00 PM, Jan 5, 2003
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As for the Jedi, their meritocracy is indistinguishable from Imperial military meritocracy. Insisting that Jedi hopefuls have the ability to at least use the Force is far less objectionable than insisting that one be cloned and genetically manipulated in order to become a stormtrooper. Moreover, Last's analogy between the Jedi and a royalist Swiss guard is woefully incorrect once since the Jedi aren't supposed to marry or have offspring.

Perhaps the message of Star Wars is not so much that the Empire is bad and that the Republic is good, so much as pointing out that both systems really sucked. I would have to give the edge to the Republic in this instance, if only because its incursions into the lives of its citizens tended to be far less deadly than the Empire's.

--Eric Filteau


While I agree that college football needs a playoff system, the current bowls should not be used. The teams who finish at the top of the polls at the end of the year should get home field advantage for the first two rounds, with the championship game played on a neutral site. All the current bowl games are in warm-weather states: Using them would give schools like Miami and USC an advantage, while penalizing schools like Washington State and Iowa.

--Phil Horning


"Quick Fix" is written by someone whom, it seems, has not played football at the post-secondary level. Two of the eight teams in Fred Barnes's playoffs will play three post-season games. Football is a brutal game. Three post-season games is, in my opinion, asking too much unless the NCAA forces a shorter regular season on all Division I schools.

Also, I realize that a month with no serious academics (spent concentrating on playoffs) would not seriously affect most players, but there are still some schools (Notre Dame, Penn State) which take college studies seriously.

--John Hollister


Jonathan V. Last's article on Star Wars is spot on. I've never bought in the "Empire is evil" stuff either. I've a few supporting points to add.

For one thing, aren't the heroes awfully concerned with royal titles for a bunch of republicans? Everybody is "princess" this or "lord" that. Shouldn't they call each other "citizen," or "comrade," or even "Mr./Ms" instead of being so stuck on titles.

And what kind of a political system allows a teen age girl to be "elected" queen of an entire planet, like Amidala? I'm sorry, but for some reason the thought of Britney Spears as an elected, absolute sovereign fills me with more dread than sense of loyalty to the Old Republic.

Indeed, given the iron hands with which most rulers in this so-called republic run their own planets, the Senate is as much a Council of Five Families as it is U.N. Each family boss seems free to run their planet as they see fit, with occasional turf wars breaking out, despite some nominal supervision from the Senate.

Not only that, these rebels, for all their protestations of morality, are not above taking and holding duly-authorized diplomats as hostages. Then there's that fight between Darth Maul and the two (yes, two) Jedi. Since when is it sporting and fair to gang up and attack two against one?

And then there's all that racial tension between the Nabooians and Jar Jar's group. What's up with that?

--Max Wright


Larry Miller should know that ever since the House managers were betrayed by the Senate leadership during the Clinton trial I have waited for Trent Lott to be pushed out (A Tale of Two Selfish Men). I bet I wasn't alone.

--Bob Redman


I enjoyed Victorino Matus's comments on "Gangs of New York", most especially since he actually bothered to read the appropriate source material (Ganged Up). There is one thing that bothered me, however. He gives the reasons for the Draft Riots of 1863 as being: "The Irish did not want to fight for a country they had just arrived in, while nativists refused to fight on behalf of Negro slaves."

This, I fear, is Scorsese's wishful thinking, not reality. The Draft Riots were a singularly ugly episode, and the participants are undeserving of a latter-day whitewash. The riots were spurred by a lethal combination of racial animosity, class hatred, and political opportunism. The (largely Irish) mobs that stormed the Colored Orphans' Asylum were not protesting unfair conscription--they were attacking black people they saw as the enemy.

(Still, nothing in "Gangs of New York" is half so poisonous as the almost slanderous "Titanic.")

--Andrew C. Batten