The New York Times shows how charming it can be with two shady gems in the Sunday Times. The first, without any repentence or apparent irony, deals with a prominent female novelist's (unrequitted!) love for every serial killer to come along in the last 25 years. The concluding paragraph does a wonderful job of speaking for itself so I'll just reprint that:

It has been more than 25 years since Gary Gilmore was executed after issuing his succinct last words, ''Let's do it.'' I had a crush on him from the moment he appeared on the scene for any number of reasons: his good looks; his soulful letters to his pretty girlfriend, Nicole; the wounded aura of defiance he carried with him. Even after reading everything ever written about him, from Norman Mailer's ''Executioner's Song,'' which glamorized him, to his brother Mikal's ''Shot in the Heart,'' which cut him down to pitiful and thuggish size, I think I'd still pick his photo out of a lineup of eligible men. What's a lady to do? Such is the unreasonable pull of pheromones, such are the crooked ways of love.

The second article deals with America's two most beloved topics... Iraq and Reality TV, of course! The headline/plug reads "Reality Shows Thrive in Chaos: Reality TV has taken root with considerably greater ease in Iraq than American-style democracy." A few paragraphs later says "Reality TV could turn out to be the most durable Western import in Iraq." Take that neo-cons. Just in case you haven't taken the hint yet, a few lines down the author spells out the message: "'This is the only good thing we've acquired from the American occupation,' Majid al-Samarraie, the writer of "Materials and Labor," said as he watched the reconstruction of Ms. Ismail's home."

"I get chills thinking about this," said Ms. Ismail, whose father had died from injuries he suffered in the explosion, as she raced across the street in a blue robe toward a cameraman filming the laborers. "Words can't express how grateful I am."...True to the genre, "Materials and Labor" has a simple conceit at its heart - Al Sharqiya, an Iraqi satellite network, offers Baghdad residents the chance to have homes that were destroyed by the war rebuilt at no cost to them.
And to think someone once said reality TV doesn't have redeeming qualities.

Other spin-offs include a reality show that endeavors to travel around the country making good on completely unredeemable winning lottery tickets - because the state is bankrupt! There is a show that helps young couples marry without fear of getting stoned to death, or whatever. There's one that repairs bombing damage to homes, even if next week they have to return to the same location. There's even a Real-World-like living show where diverse people have to learn to deal with the tensions of living together in close quarters, except in Baghdad it's because no one is able to afford their own house. The possibilities for offensive reality-TV really are several times greater in a chaotic war-torn region. If Iraq becomes a theocracy, I can imagine the U.S. networks themselves will be salivating at the Syrian border, at which they too will probably cross seemlessly and with no supervision.

Disturbingly often when reading the Times, I have to double check the date just to make sure it isn't the April Fools issue.

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