Pop culture does not mean celebrity culture; I have perhaps said this more often than anyone you're going to meet. Who dates, who gets a divorce, who has a tantrum, who has surreptitious photos snapped of him by mangy, grim opportunists — these things are not culture of any kind, popular or otherwise, unless there is something else at stake. They are curiosities, and given that we are curious creatures, their pull is not surprising, nor is it new, nor was it invented by the internet, or television, or Americans. If the Lizzie Borden case happened now, we'd read all about how the fascination with her was the product of various elements of whatever we dislike about the last ten years of our history. This would not have happened in 1892! Except it would, and did, and will again.
But celebrity is like any other pollutant: you can fight it, but only while coexisting with it, and with people who are far less concerned with limiting it than you might be. You can close your windows, move away, don't look (I certainly try not to look), but it's part of the messy world anyway. And every now and then, somebody finds an upside.
On Wednesday, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released a massive spreadsheet containing a comparison of what hospitals across the country bill for the 100 most popular medical procedures. The document revealed wild disparities in pricing from hospital to hospital.
An Illinois Senate committee has approved a proposal that would allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes. The Senate Executive Committee voted 10-5 Wednesday to send the measure to the full Senate.