"It's tempting to look smugly down our noses and find satisfaction in Lance Armstrong's downfall. Yes, he used illegal drugs to gain a competitive advantage in the sport of cycling. He had plenty of company. What bothers us as much as the 'juicing' is the steady train of deception he fobbed off on us fans who followed his career with such interest. We feel duped and disappointed. We wanted a hero who not only beat cancer, but who also beat the world's best cyclists on a fair and level playing field to achieve what no other athlete had achieved. Now he joins the sad and sorry ranks of so many elite athletes whose desire to win drove them to dishonesty. But set all self-righteousness aside, and ask whether or not there's a little bit of Lance in each of us. … At both elite and pedestrian levels, cheating is often motivated by the underlying desire to have worth as a person. Nothing wrong with that. But when coupled with the belief that we have worth as persons only insofar as we are winning in our various fields of competition, it sows the seeds of pride and envy. … To ground our worth in such fleeting attempts at glory should seem silly to Christians, especially when we recall that we are created, sustained, and saved by the almighty God of the universe. Alas, we all too often live in forgetfulness of this truth."
—Jay Wood, professor of philosophy at Wheaton College. Armstrong was officially stripped of his seven Tour de France titles on Oct. 22 after extensive evidence of his systematic doping was released earlier this month by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. [christianitytoday.com, 10/16/12; foxnews.com, 10/22/18]
Prepare to say goodbye to a Newsweek you can hold in your hands. The venerable magazine, which published its first issue in 1933, has announced that its final paper edition will be published on Dec. 31, after which the magazine will live on as a digital-only publication. Writing on thedailybeast.com (Newsweek's online partner), editor Tina Brown said the decision was driven by how consumers obtain information these days. "Currently, 39% of Americans say they get their news from an online source, according to a Pew Research Center study released last month. In our judgment, we have reached a tipping point at which we can most efficiently and effectively reach our readers in all-digital format. This was not the case just two years ago. It will increasingly be the case in the years ahead."
Writes Newsweek contributor Andrew Sullivan, "Even up to a year ago, I was still getting my New York Times every morning on paper, wrapped in blue plastic. Piles of them would sit in my blog-cave, read and half-read, skimmed, and noted. Until a couple of years ago, I also read physical books on paper, and then shifted to cheaper, easier, lighter tablet versions. … I now read almost everything on my iPad. And as I ramble down the aisle of Amtrak's Acela, I see so many reading from tablets or laptops, with the few newspapers and physical magazines seeming almost quaint, like some giant brick of a mobile phone from the 1980s. Almost no one under 30 is reading them. One day, we'll see movies with people reading magazines and newspapers on paper and chuckle. Part of me has come to see physical magazines and newspapers as, at this point, absurd." [thedailybeast.com, 10/18/12; slate.com, 10/18/12; andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com, 10/18/12 stats]
Actor Hugo Weaving, perhaps best known for his distinctively voiced turns as Agent Smith and Elrond in The Matrix and The Lord of the Rings trilogies, respectively, recently waxed dismissive about his role as the voice of Megatron in Michael Bay's Transformers' trilogy. Weaving told collider.com, "It was one of the only things I've ever done where I had no knowledge of it, I didn't care about it, I didn't think about it. … It was meaningless to me, honestly. I don't mean that in any nasty way. I did it. It was a two-hour voice job, while I was doing other things."
Bay quickly responded to Weaving via a blog post. "Do you ever get sick of actors that make $15 million a picture, or even $200,000 for voiceover work that took a brisk one hour and 43 minutes to complete, and then complain about their jobs?" he wrote. "With all the problems facing our world today, do these grumbling thespians really think people reading the news actually care about trivial complaints that their job wasn't 'artistic enough' or 'fulfilling enough'? … What happened to people who had integrity, who did a job, got paid for their hard work, and just smiled afterward? Be happy you even have a job—let alone a job that pays you more than 98% of the people in America." [collider.com, 10/18/12]
Actor Joaquin Phoenix has earned critical praise for his role in The Master. But that doesn't mean he's buying into potential Oscar buzz. "I think it's bulls‑‑‑," Phoenix said in a conversation with Elvis Mitchell in Interview magazine. "I think it's total, utter bulls‑‑‑, and I don't want to be a part of it. I don't believe in it. It's a carrot, but it's the worst-tasting carrot I've ever tasted in my whole life. I don't want this carrot. It's totally subjective. Pitting people against each other … it's the stupidest thing in the whole world." [huffingtonpost.com, 10/18/12]
Tom Hanks dropped an f-bomb on Good Morning America last Friday morning. And unlike some entertainers who appear to glory in flouting cultural mores, Hanks seemed genuinely apologetic. It came after Elizabeth Vargas asked him to emulate the accent of his character from the forthcoming film Cloud Atlas. Hanks suggested that might be dicey because, "Mostly, it's swear words." Then one quickly came out when he tried to make good on Vargas' request. Hanks immediately apologized for the slip, saying, "I'm sorry! I slipped into a brand of acting. I have never done that before. I want to apologize to the kids in America that are watching this right now. And let me say, next time I'm on the show there will be a seven-second delay." [huffingtonpost.com, 10/19/12]
Barney's, an upscale department store in New York, in partnership with Disney, has turned Mouse House characters into super-skinny runway models—revamping them with an eye for fine fashion for its holiday window display. But a campaign on change.org begging Barney's to reconsider has already garnered more than 100,000 signatures. "There is something wrong with changing a beloved children's character's body so that it looks good in a dress that almost nobody looks good in—adding to the tremendous pressure on young girls and women to attain photoshop perfection," reads the petition. "The problem isn't with Minnie's body, it's with a dress that only looks good on a woman who is 5'11" and a size zero." [salon.com, 10/18/12]
The Hangover is no longer the highest-grossing R-rated comedy ever in terms of international box office receipts. Its total worldwide tally of $467.5 million has been surpassed by a stuffed bear, the profane "protagonist" in Ted, which has now earned $481.2 million internationally. Ted, written and directed by Family Guy's Seth McFarlane, has grossed $218.6 million in North America, compared to The Hangover's still-standing domestic R-rated comedy record of $277.3 million. [deadline.com, 10/14/12; boxofficemojo.com, 10/21/12 stats]
Most countries feature important historical figures on their currency. But New Zealand recently gave the numismatic nod not to a famous former leader but to a … hobbit. The country where director Peter Jackson filmed The Lord of the Rings trilogy and the forthcoming Hobbit trilogy has just released a series of gold coins commemorating J.R.R. Tolkien's hobbit hero Bilbo Baggins. The coins' inscription reads "Middle Earth — New Zealand" in English … and Dwarvish. [salon.com, 10/10/12 c&e]