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June 2003

The Weekly Standard explores the story of Blair Hornstine in First in Her Class. Fascinating. "In a few months Blair will leave Moorestown and begin her freshman year at Harvard with a star-quality r鳵m魭academic honors, extracurricular achievements, scholarships and charitable works galore. A surprising number of townspeople, though, will be delighted to see her go."

So I'm looking at the Web pages for Harvard's Doctoral Program in Political Economy and Government. Very selective program: admit rate of just 5.5%. They have a nice page showing the job placements of the program's graduates over the last ten years. Some very impressive placements: Stanford, Chicago, Harvard, Yale. The Fed. And then comes the clincher: "Crown Prince, Perak, Malaysia."

I highly recommend the new movie Spellbound. It follows eight kids competing for the Scripps-Howard National Spelling Bee championship. The press notes for the movie state, "Many of the spellers are children of first-generation families. The director calls their incredible desire to achieve 'understandable, astonishing, and sometimes bittersweet.' Their optimism and their belief in the value of diligence and labor prove that the immigrant work ethic -- the very one that built America -- is alive today in a new generation."

David Edelstein concludes his fine review with this: "It sounds corny, but I had a hard time seeing any of these kids as losers and a harder time figuring out how this deeply generous American documentary could have lost the Academy Award to Bowling for Columbine. Is it fair to ask whether most of the voters saw Spellbound? Or would that be irresponseble?"

It's funny as hell at some places, deeply moving at others, and just a fine way to spend an hour and a half.