Sep 30, 2005

Keep your grubby paws off my Internet

First the UN, now the EU.
The European Union insisted Friday that governments and the private sector must share the responsibility of overseeing the Internet, setting the stage for a showdown with the United States on the future of Internet governance.

A senior U.S. official reiterated Thursday that the country wants to remain the Internet's ultimate authority, rejecting calls in a United Nations meeting in Geneva for a U.N. body to take over.

EU spokesman Martin Selmayr said a new cooperation model was important "because the Internet is a global resource."

"The EU ... is very firm on this position," he added.

Carnival of the clueless

Is up at Right Wing Nut House. Much foolishness on display.

Lotto lout

Nothing's changed since Michael Carroll showed up to collect his £9.7 million lottery winnings wearing an electronic ankle bracelet.
"Before he won the lottery, he was a nuisance," Charles Joyce, a local official, said. "He decided to carry on being a nuisance."

Among other things, he has appeared in court more than 30 times in the last three years. He has spent three months in jail on drugs charges, paid thousands of dollars in fines for vandalism and been evicted from several hotels after, for instance, ripping a chandelier from the ceiling while trying to swing from it.


Mr. Carroll is an object of national fascination in part because of his apparently pathological criminality, and in part because he represents a kind of Briton known as a chav. Chavs, whether rich or poor, tend to favor gaudy jewelry and expensive-but-tacky clothes with big logos and to behave in a way that others find coarse or obnoxious.

Male chavs wear tracksuits and baseball caps; female chavs pull their hair tightly back in buns or ponytails, a style known as a "council house facelift," from the term for public housing.

Mr. Carroll has "King of Chavs" printed on his Mercedes, a car known in the newspapers as the Loutmobile (its license plate reads L111 OUT).

How nice to see that his wealth hasn't spoiled him.

A picture's worth 1,000 words

In this case, the words are wrong. And five years later there's no putting the genie back in the bottle.

The editorial process

Norm takes us inside.

L'shanah tovah, Cindy!

Michael Lerner invites Cindy Sheehan to Rosh Hashanah services; Judith Klinghoffer is unimpressed by this display of ecumenism.
ts all so tragic and familiar. Jews who supported Nazis and Communists on similar basis. During the Vietnam War Jews failed to recognize the danger Hanoi's victory would pose to Israel and philosophy professor Michael Wyschogrod accused them of lacking "the most instinctual reflexes that come into play when the vital interests of a group are threatened." If that happened, he went on it meant that Jews "no longer identify as Jews on this visceral level" and that posed a danger which extended "far beyond any individual issue."

Luckily, the same cannot be said today about the Jewish community as a whole. The past had taught them a thing of two. Unfortunately, it taught Michael Lerner and his followers nothing. They repeat the same mistake over and over and over. Forgetting the all important basis of morality: "If I am not for myself? Who will be for me?"

Shame on him.

Via John Podhoretz.

Sep 29, 2005

My SCOTUS nominee

U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit, appointed by
G.W. Bush, born 1949
Judge Brown's nomination to the federal bench from
the California Supreme Court was dislodged when
the "Gang of Fourteen" decided not to
filibuster people anymore. Don't think the
same thing would happen if she were elevated to
SCOTUS! Think Clarence Thomas!

New World Man presents: My favorite candidate for the Supreme Court brought to you by Quizilla

Hat tip: Robbo.

James Dean

Still dead. It will be 50 years on Friday. Here's a piece I wrote about Dean earlier this year. Don Surber looks at what Dean missed by dying young.


Blackberry: Another victim.

Yiddish: The language of cursing.

Samizdat: Never published journalism.

Rainforest Iowa: For the children. And puppies.

Bye, bye Hollywood:
No more Japanese commercials for you.

Divisiveness in the peace movement

Centered on Israel, naturally.

Fashion Anonymous

Newflash: Models take drugs. What strikes me about this whole Kate Moss story is that she's only 31. Not that she looks any older, but she's just been around for so long. If I thought about her at all, which I didn't, I would have thought that she was at least 40 by now. I'm not sure that makes sense. Anyway, everyone in fashion does it. Hypocrites.
"They pick on Kate, but, hello, look around, it's everywhere," said Joe Zee, the editor in chief of Vitals, the high-end shopping magazine owned by Fairchild Publications, which announced this week it would cease publication. In a previous incarnation, as the fashion director of W, Mr. Zee worked with people from the top echelons of talent in the business. And drug use, he said, was rampant, in particular among models, many of whom enter the business straight out of middle school, too young by law to drink or to buy cigarettes and yet surrounded by adults proffering joints or snorts or Champagne splits at 9 a.m.

Gazans grow weary of Hamas

"I'm angry at Hamas," said [Fawzi] Wadee, 32, whose 10-year-old child [Muhammed] succumbed Tuesday morning to the wounds in his head from three shards of metal. "Before I supported them. Now I don't."

Wadee spoke softly but firmly, standing meters away from where neat rows of white plastic chairs were lined on the street under a long, green-colored mourning tent – all courtesy of Hamas. But the unemployed 32-year-old father of four was unimpressed by the gesture from the group that had called his son a "martyr" at the hands of the Israelis.

"When my son was in the hospital, no one came," said Wadee. "But when he died Hamas came and claimed him as 'their martyr.' They did it to get money from donors around the world. It's like a business. But no one gave us money."
I certainly sympathize with anyone who's lost a child, but maybe if Wadee hadn't "supported" Hamas, his son might still be alive.

And notice Wadee's peevish tone about the lack of money coming his way. Most people would rather have a living child than a $25,000 check. But the widespread corruption within the Palestinian territories, coupled with a lack of any cohesive government structure that would enable people to earn their own livings, have turned the whole "nation" into beggars.

Hamas' "humanitarian" largesse is often pointed out in MSM stories about the Palestinian situation.
Hamas, like many other terrorist organizations, conceals its activities behind charitable, social, and political fronts. Hamas's infrastructure of social-welfare institutions, the backbone of its proselytizing efforts (dawa), generates both popular support for the organization and logistical support for its terrorist attacks.

Yasir Arafat, too, was notorious for handing out money "like a Chicago ward boss," going so far as to tour the camps with suitcases full of money to be doled out to grateful supplicants.

Likewise Saddam Hussein's contribution of $25,000 to families of Palestinian "martyrs" earned him the open support of Palestinians.

Until Palestinian parents value the lives of their children over the breadcrumbs left to them by theior murderous overlords, more children will be killed. But maybe this was a wake up call.

Linked to Beltway Traffic Jam.

PETA has nothing on these creeps

The Animal Liberation Front, ALF, left "devices" at the home of a pharmaceuticals executive and an Oxford college sports pavillion yesterday.
Sources close to the university said the device was disabled and little damage was done. However, the ALF claimed that it had spent the past 15 months researching the university and threatened to destroy all of its property if it did not stop building the facility to house animals for research on South Park Road.

"We know every weakness you have," the ALF website said. "You have people within your ranks acting against you. You cannot build the South Park lab without incurring massive losses. We are stronger than you, we have more resolve than you and we never give up!

"If we have to destroy every bit of property you own we will, in order to stop you inflicting your profit-driven cruelties on defenceless creatures. You cannot stop us, we are free to attack you at will, whenever and wherever."

They've also threatened the U.K.'s largest daycare provider, which gave in to ALF's demands that it stop offering vouchers to employees of Huntingdon Life Sciences, an animal testing company.

Keeping up with the war in Iraq

Bing West, author of No True Glory: A Frontline Account of the Battle for Fallujah has an interesting series of articles on Fallujah over at Slate.

Also, Bill Roggio has great posts on the combat in Iraq. Start with this flash presentation covering combat operations from August 27 thru September 17, 2005 and go from there.

Finally, Fouad Ajami has a brilliant piece on the war, our justification for being there and our need to stay the course.

Meet the latest members of the Outraged-American community

Flight attendants. The outrage: A flight attendant and an air marshall are depicted as terrorists in the latest Jodie Foster film.
A union statement issued on Tuesday also complained that other flight attendants in the film are shown as being "rude, unhelpful and uncaring."

"This depiction of flight attendants is an outrage," said Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) International President Patricia Friend. "Flight attendants continue to be the first line of defense on an aircraft and put their lives on the line day after day for the safety of passengers."

An AFA spokeswoman in Washington said the unions worry that moviegoers will take away impressions that will make it more difficult for flight attendants to "earn the trust and respect of passengers."

Sep 28, 2005

Has any good ever come out of a Congressional hearing?

I saw snippets of both Brown's and Blanco's appearance before Congress and I must say John has it nailed: Brown kept getting reamed and Blanco was coddled. But then, what did I expect?

Banned books

Stolen from Lemuel, the top 110 banned books. Books in bold, I've read. Italicized titles I've at least skimmed, etc. Feel free to copy. comment, whatever.

#1 The Bible
#2 Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
#3 Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
#4 The Koran
#5 Arabian Nights
#6 Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
#7 Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift
#8 Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
#9 Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
#10 Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
#11 Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli
#12 Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
#13 Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
#14 Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
#15 Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
#16 Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
#17 Dracula by Bram Stoker
#18 Autobiography by Benjamin Franklin
#19 Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
#20 Essays by Michel de Montaigne
#21 Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
#22 History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon
#23 Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
#24 Origin of Species by Charles Darwin
#25 Ulysses by James Joyce
#26 Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio
#27 Animal Farm by George Orwell
#28 Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
#29 Candide by Voltaire
#30 To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
#31 Analects by Confucius
#32 Dubliners by James Joyce
#33 Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
#34 Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
#35 Red and the Black by Stendhal
#36 Capital by Karl Marx
#37 Flowers of Evil by Charles Baudelaire
#38 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
#39 Lady Chatterley's Lover by D. H. Lawrence
#40 Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
#41 Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser
#42 Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
#43 Jungle by Upton Sinclair
#44 All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
#45 Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx
#46 Lord of the Flies by William Golding
#47 Diary by Samuel Pepys
#48 Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
#49 Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
#50 Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
#51 Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
#52 Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant
#53 One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
#54 Praise of Folly by Desiderius Erasmus
#55 Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
#56 Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X
#57 Color Purple by Alice Walker
#58 Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
#59 Essay Concerning Human Understanding by John Locke
#60 Bluest Eyes by Toni Morrison
#61 Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe
#62 One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
#63 East of Eden by John Steinbeck
#64 Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
#65 I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
#66 Confessions by Jean Jacques Rousseau
#67 Gargantua and Pantagruel by François Rabelais
#68 Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes
#69 The Talmud
#70 Social Contract by Jean Jacques Rousseau
#71 Bridge to Terabinthia by Katherine Paterson
#72 Women in Love by D. H. Lawrence
#73 American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
#74 Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler
#75 A Separate Peace by John Knowles
#76 Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
#77 Red Pony by John Steinbeck
#78 Popol Vuh
#79 Affluent Society by John Kenneth Galbraith
#80 Satyricon by Petronius
#81 James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
#82 Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
#83 Black Boy by Richard Wright
#84 Spirit of the Laws by Charles de Secondat Baron de Montesquieu
#85 Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
#86 Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
#87 Metaphysics by Aristotle
#88 Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
#89 Institutes of the Christian Religion by Jean Calvin
#90 Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse
#91 Power and the Glory by Graham Greene
#92 Sanctuary by William Faulkner
#93 As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
#94 Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin
#95 Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig
#96 Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
#97 General Introduction to Psychoanalysis by Sigmund Freud
#98 Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
#99 Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Alexander Brown
#100 Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
#101 Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman by Ernest J. Gaines
#102 Émile by Jean Jacques Rousseau
#103 Nana by Émile Zola
#104 Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
#105 Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin
#106 Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
#107 Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein
#108 Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Peck
#109 Ox-Bow Incident by Walter Van Tilburg Clark
#110 Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

Rarer than a spotted owl

A conservative librarian. David Durant writes about the politicization of the American Library Association.
The ALA's annual conferences have become akin to meetings, where Bush bashing and liberal groupthink are the order of the day. At the association's June 2003 convention, in Toronto, the lineup of speakers included Ralph Nader, U.S. Rep. Bernie Sanders, Naomi Klein, and Gloria Steinem. That was merely a warm-up, however, for the blatantly political event that was the 2004 convention in Orlando, Fla.

The featured speaker in Orlando was Richard A. Clarke, once a member of the Bush administration and now its bitter foe. Others included E.L. Doctorow, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., and Amy Goodman, the left-wing radio host. The highlight was a special benefit showing of Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11, which drew a capacity crowd of over 2,000. The association's own magazine, American Libraries, described the proceedings with the headline "Opposition to Iraq War Pervades ALA in Orlando."

The politicized atmosphere in Orlando included clear intolerance toward dissenting viewpoints. Whitney Davison-Turley, a liberal, spoke at the membership meeting against a resolution condemning the war in Iraq, arguing that it was inappropriate for the ALA to take a stand on the issue. Her comments got a hostile response. Later she wrote: "Protecting the freedom of speech is a core tenet of librarianship, and this tenet was violated during the Membership Meeting. Shaming alternative opinions into silence is the same as placing a gag over our mouths, and this is not what librarians supposedly stand for."

Paul Pennyfeather
has more. I must say his graduate school experiences certainly beat mine.
My class on Bibliographic Description listed as "required reading" no less than six works by the radical writer Michel Foucault. I never figured out what this had to do with bibliographical description of rare books.

This same prof complained that the Library school should not take our picture, as they did at the beginning of the program, claiming that "this is the way the apartheid government in South Africa stifled dissent and crushed rebellion." As far as I know, no student ever had to endure electro-shock for their revolutionary views. He also claimed, seriously, that the small windows in the Rare Book and Manuscript Depository of the university were deliberately constructed that way to allow them to function as machine gun platforms should the university every experience any real rebellion. I offered the view that maybe the size of the windows was related to the desire not to expose the rare books and manuscripts to sunlight, as this tends to hasten their deterioration. He ignored me. Probably for the best.

New to me

I had never heard of dogging. Apparently that puts me at odds with British cabbies, hairdressers and pubowners, most of whom have never heard of blogging.

When worlds collide.

McCain meets with Mother Sheehan

Why? There's something very odd about this story.
The two exchanged views about the war, and McCain described the conversation as "a rehash" of opinions already well known. He said he might not have met with Sheehan had he known none of his constituents was in the group.

They just love their abayas

There's no hint in this story about Karen Hughes in Saudi Arabia that the handpicked women in the audience may have felt the slightest bit of constraint about speaking in front of reporters. No, it was "an unusual departure from the carefully staged events in a tour that began Sunday in Egypt," we're told.
Several women said later that Americans failed to understand that their traditional society was embraced by men and women alike.

"There is more male chauvinism in my profession in Europe and America than in my country," said Dr. Siddiqa Kamal, an obstetrician and gynecologist who runs her own hospital.

"I don't want to drive a car," she said. "I worked hard for my medical degree. Why do I need a driver's license?"

"Women have more than equal rights," added her daughter, Dr. Fouzia Pasha, also an obstetrician and gynecologist, asserting that men have obligations accompanying their rights, and that women can go to court to hold them accountable.

The scent of a book

Digitized books are fine for research, says Richard W. Oram, but nothing replaces the sensory experience of the real thing--particularly when it comes to real books owned by famous people. Take T.E. Lawrence's copy of Ulysses, for example.
Lawrence's copy of Ulysses is remarkable for its smell. The book has been shown to many visitors and students over the years. When it is carefully removed from the shelf and ceremoniously divested of its acid-free box, which helps preserve the volume, even from several inches away you can smell a sweet, somewhat smoky aroma that suffuses every bit of paper and leather. Many people assume it must be the residue of pipe tobacco, perhaps the fruit-scented variety. The aroma is a spur to the imagination, summoning up romantic visions of Lawrence by his fireside, puffing reflectively on a meerschaum, immersed in the drama of Leopold Bloom.

The aroma made its way into the pages of Nicholas A. Basbanes's A Splendor of Letters: The Permanence of Books in an Impermanent World (HarperCollins, 2003), which looks at why libraries preserve the items they do. Basbanes noted that the Ransom Center has collected so many copies of Ulysses in part because of their associations. Not surprisingly, he focused on the singularly sensual Lawrence copy and the "tobacco" scent.
I've got to agree. Last year in London, I visited the new British Library's treasure room. I was there for hours and I could have spent days. And while I was prevented from smelling the treasures by a pane of glass, I can't even describe the thrill I felt being inches away from a memorandum written in Admiral Nelson's own hand or seeing a draft of the Messiah written by Handel. Had I been allowed to touch or sniff such things, I probably would have swooned. You just don't get the same experience when you view them on your computer.

Via Arts & Letters Daily.

UPDATE: From the Llamabutchers comes word that one of Admiral Nelson's one-armed undershirts is up for auction. Talk about your sensory experiences.

Sep 27, 2005

'The soft despotism of sensitivity'

Harvey Mansfield on the sensitivity police in academia.
Sensitivity is today's version of the soft despotism that Alexis de Tocqueville worried about in democracies, and it would not have surprised him that the worst of it would be found in the halls of the intellect. Only in American universities, some 300 of them, from 1987 to 1992, did the movement for sensitivity go so far as to enact semi-legal speech codes proscribing offensive speech. These codes provoked the ire of a few free speech heroes on the campuses and, more important, prompted them to mobilize opposition to the codes and to attempts by university administrators to enforce them.

And for a real-life example, see this BBC article (via David T.) about a work of art that was supposed to be shown at the Tate Modern but was pulled because of fears that it would offend Muslim sensitivity. Funny how the art world has no qualms about offending people of other religions.

So what's the difference here? Does the "transgressive" art world have a special animus against Christianity? Or are they just a bunch of scaredy cats? Look at it this way: When you offend a bunch of Christians, all you'll get is a couple of protests--and lots of free publicity--but if you tick off the Muslim community, you're liable to really get hurt.



Benator? Nooooooo!

Puppy love: Discreet digs for your dog.

Silly walks? Argument clinic? Vote for your favorite Monty Python moment.

Hitler: Not really a vegetarian. Via Harry.

Spawn: The Donald reproduces.

Gaza strife spells good news for Netanyahu

Gloria Salt:
The more chaos reigns in Gaza – particularly chaos that affects nearby Israeli population centers – the rosier Netanyahu’s prospects become (a sobering thought, when we recall his last rather ignominious tenure as prime minister after Rabin’s assassination). But let’s not count his chickens quite yet. The vote to advance the primary will be among Likud members, a small minority of actual Likud voters, and they do not include too many resounding supporters of Bibi. Still, the situation is delicate. The question now is whether Sharon will feel it necessary to do something really dramatic (read: really violent) to ensure Likud confidence in his determination to fight Palestinian terror. Hamas is well aware of Sharon’s position, and may well attempt to call his bluff with a serious escalation. If he elects not to rise to the bait, Hamas may ultimately be able to add regime change in Israel to their list of dubious accomplishments.

Eliza Bennett, proto-feminist

Charlotte Allen gives the new Pride and Prejudice movie, starring Keira Knightly, a thumbs down.
There’s got to be something wrong with a film version of Pride and Prejudice when Mr. Bennett turns out to be my favorite character.

I saw the trailer, which I'll grant you is seldom the most reliable indicator, but I didn't get a good feeling about it.

Blair and the Saudis

Are involved in a not-so-secret arms deal.
Mr Blair went to Riyadh on July 2, en route to Singapore, where Britain was bidding for the 2012 Olympics. Three weeks later, Mr Reid made a two-day visit, when he sought to persuade Prince Sultan, the crown prince, to re-equip his air force with the Typhoon, the European fighter plane of which the British arms company BAE has the lion's share of manufacturing.

Defence, diplomatic and legal sources say negotiations are stalling because the Saudis are demanding three favours. These are that Britain should expel two anti-Saudi dissidents, Saad al-Faqih and Mohammed al-Masari; that British Airways should resume flights to Riyadh, currently cancelled through terrorism fears; and that a corruption investigation implicating the Saudi ruling family and BAE should be dropped. Crown prince Sultan's son-in-law, Prince Turki bin Nasr, is at the centre of a "slush fund" investigation by the Serious Fraud Office.

Hitchens on his formative book

It's How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewllyn.
[It] was a book that changed my life in two ways, or possibly three. When I first took hold of it, at the age of about fourteen, I was seeking that span of writing that connects boys' books to adult reading - in the same way that one 'took on' Ernest Hemingway and Graham Greene at about the same period. The book was long, and it was a sort of triumph to have addressed and mastered such a hefty text at all. But that cannot be the reason why I read it and re-read it until the paperback fell to pieces, or why I got to the point where I knew every scene in the book and loved it all the more for its certainty and familiarity.


Some moments of it will always be with me: the father made to stand in the rain 'like a dog', so that the bosses can humiliate him in front of his children; the bare-knuckle boxing-match; the older brothers' revenge on the sadistic sell-out of a schoolteacher; the colliery accident; the astonishing emphasis on food in both its plenty and its absence; that moment up on the mountainside with the girl. And then the introduction to Welsh names and idioms, and the shock I felt when one of the brothers declares his intention 'to fight against the bloody English'.

Vote early and often

GOP primary straw poll.

I'm a human rights violator

I confess: I coo at babies. I've even been known to mug at them. Also--and this is despicable, I know--I've blown raspberries on their little infant tummies (but only the tummies of babies I know really well). What can I say? I didn't know; I was uninformed; I'm a product of my upbringing. Mea culpa. Mea maxima culpa.

How touching

Katrina helps heal the Microsoft/Netscape rift.

Sep 26, 2005

SUV owners really are evil

Definitive proof.

'The end of the gun in Irish politics'

Watchdog says IRA has decommissioned all its arms.
"The decommissioning of the arms of the IRA is now an accomplished fact," said John de Chastelain, the retired Canadian general who has been responsible for overseeing the decommissioning process since 1997.

"This can be the end of the use of the gun in Irish politics," he added.

He presented a confidential report on his weapons inspections to the British and Irish governments this morning following several months of decommissioning actions in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

He said they had been decommissioning since July but the bulk of the work had been done in the past week, finishing on Saturday.

Narnia v. Middle Earth

New BBC "drama documentary" tells the story of the sometimes testy relationship between C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkein.
In CS Lewis, Beyond Narnia, Lewis and Tolkien are shown having a violent argument about The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Lewis wrote afterwards: "No harm in him, only needs a smack or so."

Tolkien disliked the first Narnia book, published in 1950, telling the author it had too many clashing elements and was pushing the Christianity "message" too far. He also apparently "hated" Lewis's allegorical fight between good and evil, with Jesus represented by Aslan the Lion.

"Some people may see it as trading insults," said Stone. "Initially, when Lewis turned to writing children's books, his publisher and other friends tried to dissuade him. They thought it would hurt his reputation as a writer of serious works on literature and ethics.

"Tolkien thought there were too many elements that clashed: a Father Christmas and an evil witch, talking animals and children. He did not like allegory and thought Lewis's book was too pushy in a Christian sense."

Via Bookslut.

The end of the lad with the bulging forehead

Jeeves will no longer adorn the pages of Ask Jeeves.
Search site Ask Jeeves is getting rid of the iconic valet that has been its companion since its earliest days.

Citing "user confusion" over what the butler character represents the search site has said that Jeeves will soon be phased out.

There is no firm date for when the character will disappear from the Ask site, but it will soon stop being the brand's most prominent icon.

Just as well, really. Over the past year, the site has given the valet a most un-Jeeveslike makeover. Heaven knows what would have come next.

Getting to know you

Alhamedi, who blogs at The Religious Policeman gives a tour of the official site of the Saudi religious police.

Hurricane relief: The game show

It's hard to fault corporations who donate money and goods to help survivors of Hurricane Katrina. Yet the spectacle I saw on the Today Show this morning left a really bad taste in my mouth.

Renaming Rockefeller Plaza Humanity Plaza was just the beginning. Next we see perky Katie Couric at her perkiest don an apron (ostensibly to help build houses for Habitat for Humanity) and introduce a woman who likely had the hardest of all hard luck stories: Let's call her Jackie. It wasn't enough that Jackie lost her home; it wasn't enough that Jackie got separated from her all but one of her four children. No, Jackie has also been diagnosed with a terminal disease and has been given six months to live.

Katie introduces Jackie and teases her story out of her, causing the poor woman break down into hysterics: Full-blown hicupping tears. This is the cue to reunite her with her missing children.

Jessica, Jerome and little Jesse: COME ON DOWN.

There followed interviews of the children, from youngest to oldest, punctuated by announcements of the prizes they win for participating in this dog and pony show. Little Jesse gets a backpack full of school supplies from Corporation X; Jessica gets A BRAND NEW CAR, etc., etc.

In the end, Jackie came out a winner in gameshow parlance, but why did this poor woman have to endure this spectacle? Hasn't she been through enough?

I am reminded of the Eight Levels of Charity of Maimonides:

1. Giving a poor person work (or loaning him money to start a business) so he will not have to depend on charity. This is because the person is now free from having to rely on charity. The giver has not just helped the recipient for the short while, but instead for the rest of their life. There are four sublevels to this:
1. Giving a poor person work.
2. Making a partnership with them (this is lower than work, as the recipient might feel he doesn't put enough into the partnership).
3. Giving a loan.
4. Giving a gift.

2. Giving charity anonymously to an unknown recipient.
3. Giving charity anonymously to a known recipient.
4. Giving charity publicly to an unknown recipient.
5. Giving charity before being asked.
6. Giving adequately after being asked.
7. Giving willingly, but inadequately.
8. Giving unwillingly.

Number 9 might be giving adequately but primarily for publicity.


Thou artless clapper-clawed scut! Shakespearean insults. Via Norm.

Abaya Barbie: And all her little friends.

Mmm mmm good: Bear stew.

Cheez-its: A tribute.

Arab superheroes: Comics and more. Via Brainster.

Charge!! RINO Stampede XII


Republicans /
Overdosed (on the Party Kool-Aid)
They're on the rampage. And they've got an opinion on just about everything. Submitted for your edification: RINO Stampede XII.

rhino-pic20Constitution Day? Ironic, ain't it, that the new federally mandated holiday is unconstitutional? Dr. Rusty Shackleford has a thing or two to say to our Congressional overlords about the Constitution and their (lack of) knowledge about that document.

Forget the crescent of embrace, the unholy concoction dreamed up to memorialize flight 93. The Commissar offers his own tribute: The boxcutter of friendship.

rhino-pic21How will we pay for the damage that Katrina wrought? Jeremy Dibbell welcomes the debate between Republicans in Congress on cutting wasteful spending.

Meanwhile, other RINOs are looking for--and finding--pork in their home states.

Eric at Classical Values identifies some Pennsylvania Pork: A proposed memorial to slaves who lived in a Philadelphia building that no longer exists.
Assuming for the sake of argument that land where slaves once lived is forever "hallowed," does it really have to cost $3.6 million in taxpayer dollars to let people know?

The Unabomber didn't have too look too hard to find pork in Delaware.

rhino-pic20Hurricane Katrina wiped New Orleans clean. Louisiana Libertarian Kevin Boyd says it's time for Louisianans to clean up the state government by electing the competent and the uncorrupt: Leaders who will reverse the trend of state politics that began with the election of Huey Long.

If you donated to a charity for Hurricane Katrina relief, you're a sucker, says Ted Rall, thereby earning himself the prestigious Weekly Jackass Award from Mark Coffey. Couldn't have found a more worthy candidate.

Speaking of stupid, Buckley F. Williams reports on a press conference that had to end early after Lt. General Russell Honore intervenes.

rhino-pic21Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco advised residents who wanted to wait out Rita "to write their Social Security number on their arms with indelible ink…” If George Bush had made such a statement, imagine the outrage, Tom Hanna writes.

The earth's magnetic fields are weakening, according to geologists. Roaring Tiger wonders who will be the first to blame this geological phenomenon on Bush.

Don Surber identifies a living oxymoron--with heavy emphasis on the moron--a veteran novice anti-war protester.

International ANSWER: [A]nti-america, anti-business, anti-Christian (and sometimes anti-Judeo-Christian), anti-Israel (and if you get them in a good swing anti-jew)," says Larry Bernard, even the Kossacks can see that. Well, some of them.

rhino-pic20Nicholas Schweitzer thanks the New York Times for Times Select, thus freeing bloggers around the world from the obligation of quoting Maureen Down. Truly a humanitarian service.

Say Uncle finds a white Tennessee state legislator who wants to join the legislature's Black Caucus. The group claims to represent all the citizens of the state, so what's the problem?

Gun control is racist, sexist and classist, says j.d. at evolution. So how come feminists focus on one issue and one issue only?

Piglito writes about the treatment of blacks in France.
France, the country which so loves to wag its finger at America over all things racial, has real problems themselves, and not just peoples' attitudes toward minorities. It extends to political representation and economic opportunities.

rhino-pic21Holocaust revisionists=Nazi sympathizers, says Orac. And the death of Simon Wiesenthal brought them out of the woodwork.

Holocaust deniers meet the AIDS deniers. Richard Bennett goes after the movement and one of its leaders.

Professor Bainbridge gets "all schizo" about John McCain, but not so nuts as to want to see McCain win the GOP presidential nomination in 2008. A man after my own heart.

Our friends the Saudis have spread their poisonous Wahabbist doctrine to Thailand, writes Mary Madigan at Dean's World. The result: Terrorized merchants are keeping markets closed on Friday, leading to a serious economic decline.

The RIGHT stuff? Digger finds much to like in U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo's immigration act.

rhino-pic20Share and share alike? Iran says it doesn't have nukes, but it wants to "share" them with fellow Muslims. Dan Melson at Searchlight Crusade looks at our options for dealing with the mullahs. None are too appealing. Perhaps you have some ideas of your own? Let him know.

Yemen, "a government that routinely arrests children as retribution, tortures prisoners, and systematically rapes the women prisoners," identifies the heroic Jane Novak with the culture of Abu Ghraib. Way to go, Jane.

Authoritarianism. Elitism. Paternalism. All values that are anathema to the blogosphere. Yet, says aTypical Joe, certain celebrity bloggers use their blogrolls to keep out the great unwashed.

"Everytime we've put pressure on Israel to do something that's more in our interest than theirs, our Presidents/homeland have suffered the consequences." Coincidence? Reaganite doesn't think so.

Listed at NZ Bear's ÜberCarnival Page.

Sep 24, 2005


A note to the readers: Rachel is having technical difficulties with the damn machine from hell Dell, and kindly allowed me to fill in for her.
I bring to your attention my first opus

I returned to New York from vacation.

This wasn’t the first time I spend a week or two away from the city. I’ve traveled to an island along Venezuelan coast, to Boston, to Wisconsin countryside, to Montreal, other places, as a tourist or on business. Always, when it was time to come back, I regretted the moment. Like an unreasonable toddler demanding more ice cream than his little belly can process, I had been hungry for more strange life: people, their clothes, the dialect, what they eat for breakfast, the way they sway their bodies when talk, landmarks in a foreign town, skies above the beach or ferns in the woods. I was literary dragging my feet to the plane or the bus; I was inventing mental candy for myself – “your garden is there, waiting”, or “they probably finished construction at the hotel project by now”. And it’s not like I live in some tiny town with homogeneous populace speaking in same boring overtones; New York have long menu of wonders to choose from. As well as all the monotony of daily routines, tired faces at work, newspapers and suspicious stains littering sidewalks, rats strolling along subway platforms.

This time was different. I had a wonderful vacation, possibly my best so far. I enjoyed it tremendously, it was a feast of sunshine, beautiful buildings, road views, boats, trains and beaches, interesting people, precious wine and new food.

Still, I surprised myself with this hurrah! feeling when it was finally my turn to pass my passport to a customs’ officer at JFK and he said, with heavy Brighton Beach accent, “Welcome to New York!”
Welcome indeed! My eyes moistened affectionately listening to the taxi driver, somewhere in a middle of dark Queens, demanding exact directions to my house in Brooklyn – or I should get prepared to pay extra , “coz this one is a big city, man, who da ya think I am to know every damn turn!” I told him I enjoyed his driving style and tipped him well, too well I think, judging by his sudden impulse to help me out with my wheeler. I know I went a bit money-happy with sweetly familiar US notes in my wallet, longer, duller and more substantial to the touch after colorful European currency.

In the morning, when I went out on familiar route ( lock-the-door, walk-to bus, bus-to-subway, Brooklyn-Manhattan, walk-to work) the city felt fitting like worked-in glove.

Humidity? Free skin moisturizer.
Dog-poop in front of my porch? One shove and it’s on the road, for sanitation to clean: I’m the one paying you, dudes!
Crazy jogger-neighbor waved passing by.
Metrocard still had 2 paid trips in it so I could breath some cool air on a bus to subway.
I recognized people on the platform; they did, too: a Greek woman who works for Vera Wong came over to ask where had I tanned so good, in Greece? and the male nurse waiting for the right door at the head of the platform handled me Metro paper, nodding ”Being away?”
In midtown, walking up the block to my building, I was greeted by UPS guy, a Pakistani owner of the deli across the street (Basmati for lunch today, come!) and a 34 St. Alliance’ street sweeper in green uniform. My building guard told me he has missed me and called down the elevator. Even my boss complemented my new earrings and said “Trips to Europe suit you” before loading my desk with "ASAP"- redlined drawings nobody touched for 2 weeks.

I was home. First time in 14 years living in this dirty, scary, unforgiving and best in the world city, I truly felt it: I was home.

Sep 23, 2005

Telethon for terrorism

Hosted by he Saudi government's Muslim World League Koran Memorization Commission, Sheikh Abdallah Basfar.
Host: "Palestine calls out to you – its women, children, elderly, and youth. They appeal to the generosity of the Khalifa Al-Mu'tasem within you. Wage Jihad for the sake of Allahin what you do best, in order to defend the first Qibla [direction of prayer] and the third holiest shrine. Donate, even the smallest thing, for your brothers in Palestine, and you will be blessed."

Caption: The Saudi committee for support of the Al-Quds Intifada. Account No. 98, a joint account at all Saudi banks.


Organizer: "As the Prophet Muhammad said, Jihad is the pinnacle of Islam. A person who cannot wage Jihad with his soul is required to wage Jihad with his money, with his tongue, with his thought, and with any means at his disposal. There is no doubt that our brothers in Palestine desperately need financial support, which goes directly to this cause, and helps them to carry out this mission."

About those antiwar protesters

Greyhawk has them covered.

How to pay for Katrina

Restrain foreign aid, says Dr. Demarche. He's found a way to save more than $37 billion:
Eliminate US Subscriptions to the European Bank $386,000,000
Reduce Economic Assistance to Egypt $1,200,000,000
Eliminate Millennium Challenge Accounts $24,352,000,000
Level Funding for Peacekeeping Operations $1,294,000,000
Eliminate International Fund for Ireland $195,000,000
Level Funding for Global AIDS Initiative $7,598,000,000
Level Funding for Inter-American Foundation $28,000,000
Level Funding for the African Development Foundation $28,000,000
Level Funding for the Peace Corps $111,000,000
Level Funding for Andean Counter-Drug Initiative $125,000,000
Reduce USAID Operating Expenses $793,000,000
Level Funding for the International Development Assoc. $1,489,000,000
Level Funding for Asian Development Bank $223,000,000
SUBTOTAL: Restraining Foreign Aid $37,822,000,000

Transgendered Ronald McDonald


Meet Japan's new Ronald McDonald.mgposter128
Traditionally, Ronald McDonald would goof about in oversized shoes and baggy yellow overalls in a frantic and successful pursuit of Hamburgler.

In the Japanese TV commercial the foxy female version, with shoulder-length straight auburn hair in place of Ronald's frizzy mop, smoulders at the camera in a flowing yellow dress, and later a red and white striped bikini with thigh-length leggings and red high heels.

But the man behind the campaign insists he did not create a female Ronald McDonald - but merely appropriated his instantly recognisable outfit.

Iran: World leader in opiate addiction

According to the Washington Post, 2.8 percent of Iran's population over the age of 15 is addicted to some form of opiate, including heroin.
When an earthquake leveled the city of Bam in 2003, among the emergency supplies rushed to the scene were doses of methadone, a synthetic drug used to treat heroin and morphine addicts, for the 20 percent or more of the population believed to be addicted. So many Iranians rely on opiates that an influential government analyst suggests the state itself should consider cultivating poppies.

"Yes," said Azarakhsh Mokri, director of the Iranian National Center for Addiction Studies: "A strategic reserve of narcotics."

But if the utility of narcotics has roots in Iran's ancient culture, and the discount prices (about $5 for a gram of heroin, 50 percent pure) stem from proximity to the poppy fields of neighboring Afghanistan, experts, addicts and government officials agree that addiction has lately emerged as a corrosive new symptom of the country's economic failure, a marker for despair.

"You haven't got a job. You haven't got a family. You haven't got entertainment," said Amir Mohammadi, who at 30 has been an addict for 10 years. "For a few hours, you forget everything."

Heroin, a powerful derivative of opium, is taking hold among young people whose path to addiction typically stems from disappointment in the job market. A government poll shows almost 80 percent of Iranians detect a direct link between unemployment and drug addiction. Iran's government regularly fails to produce the 1 million jobs needed each year to accommodate the new workers entering the labor force from a baby boom still coming of age.

Interesting. I would have thought that a fundamentalist Muslim society would frown on the use of drugs, and apparently the "revolutionary" movement imprisoned addicts after it took over in 1979. But now that's changed.
Having since embraced policies grounded in pragmatism, Tehran has provided surprising freedom in drug treatment, subsidizing needle exchanges and methadone centers. The government also has funded energetic efforts to stanch the flow of opiates on the trafficking routes into the country. In the last decade, thousands of Iranian troops and police officers have been killed battling smugglers, most along the porous borders with Afghanistan and Pakistan.

"Our people in Iran have been in the front line in this war on drugs," Hashemi said.

Yet despite such bloodstained evidence, drugs remain so prevalent that many Iranians describe their availability as evidence of a government plot. After students rioted at Tehran University in 1999, residents of a locked-down dormitory told of drug dealers being allowed in to distribute narcotics for free.

"I believe this is the policy of the state, to make all the youth addicted," said Hamid Motalebi, 22, a police officer on duty in a south Tehran park almost overrun by junkies sleeping on the grass or staggering like zombies. "It's the lack of policy and management. If they could create enough jobs, enough entertainment, why would people turn to drugs?"

Lurkers: Unmask yourselves

Inspired by The Commissar, I'm asking lurkers--those who read this blog, but never comment--to doff their veils and come out into the open. Introduce yourself. Tell me what you think. Or just make a random observation. Those of you who do comment regularly are welcome to join in--as if I could stop you.

Sep 22, 2005


Report on Rita: "Pre-looting phase."

Dispatch from the Vatican City Coin-Op: And God's socks.

Wanted: Dog poop analyst. Via Nickie Goomba.

Lewinsky and Kaczynski: Limericks.

Where it comes from: History of the @ sign. Via The English Guy.

You won't read about it in the New York Times

Mediacrity on the paper's the strange silence regarding the Palestinians.
One central tenet of the Sulzberger Indifference Template, the Times policy of handling news concerning the Arab-Israel conflict, has been to promote the myth of Palestinian moderation. To do that, it is essential that this once-great newspaper downplay U.S. criticism that runs counter to this myth. One of the most effective ways of doing that, as I mentioned the other day, is to simply not report stuff.

So unless you follow Voice of America website, you won't know the following:

Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs, C. David Welch, says Mr. Abbas has major challenges ahead. "Although President Mahmoud Abbas has taken some steps to assert control, overall Palestinian Authority performance to date has been far from satisfactory. The [Palestinian Authority] must move quickly to establish order and to take steps to dismantle the infrastructure of terror," he said.

Not terribly surprising. The New York Times also downplayed the Holocaust while it was going on, preferring to "avoid the Semitic question."

Some newspaper of record.

Holocaust victims discovered at US Army post in Germany

German police find 34 corpses at Stuttgart Army Airfield.
Two sets of remains were discovered Monday while workers dug as part of a drainage project. The workers informed U.S. military police, who then informed local police, according to German investigators.

Local police uncovered three more remains Monday, and further digging Tuesday unearthed several shallow graves located next to each other and containing another 29 sets of skeletal remains, police said.

“The remains are suspected to be remains of Jewish inmates from the concentration camp,” Bernhard Haeussler, of the Stuttgart prosecutor’s office, said through an interpreter.

The airfield is used by the U.S. military for transporting troops, cargo and VIPs. The Stuttgart military community mail depository is also located there, as is a German police helicopter unit. It is adjacent to the Stuttgart international airport south of the city.

Men are dirtier than women

WASHINGTON -- Men are dirtier than women. So scientists confirmed by spying in public restrooms, watching as one-quarter of men left without washing their hands.

The worst offenders were at an Atlanta Braves game.

In contrast, 90 percent of the women did wash up.

Wednesday's results mark the American Society of Microbiology's latest look at how many people take what is considered the single easiest step to staying healthy: spending 20 seconds rubbing with soap under the faucet.

It also explains why these infection experts tend to use paper towels to open bathroom doors. There is no telling what germs the person before you left on the knob.

The war against faxes

I hate them, too. And those printers/faxers/scanners things? They don't do any of 'em right.

Because everybody's doing it, and I'm bored

You are a

Social Liberal
(65% permissive)

and an...

Economic Conservative
(80% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid

Hat tip: Andy and Robert and a cast of thousands.

Addicted to Krugman, but can't afford to pay?

John Tabin's Never Pay Retail links to NYT columnists whose work is behind the gates of TimesSelect but published elsewhere for free. H/T Mark Coffey.

George W. Bush Street

You'll find it in Tbilisi, Georgia.
"George Bush is doing a lot for the development of democracy in the world and is helping Georgia with its democratic transformation. And we are proud that one of Tbilisi's streets will carry his name," said Mayor Gigi Ugulava.

Via Lemuel.

Forget the hipsters: Bring in the middle class

The "hipster set," an appealing melange of "gays, twentysomethings and young creatives" has become the desired demographic of civic leaders throughout the US and Europe, says Joel Kotkin, but a thriving middle class will do more to ensure the long-term viability of a city.
Everywhere—from New Orleans to London and Paris—the middle classes, whatever their colour, are deserting the core for safer and more affordable suburbs, following in the footsteps of high-tech industries and major corporations.

Yet rather than address serious issues like housing, schools, transport, jobs and security, mayors and policy gurus from Berlin and London to Sydney and San Francisco have adopted what can be best be described as the "cool city strategy." If you can somehow make your city the rage of the hipster set, they insist, all will be well.

New Orleans, the most recent victim of catastrophic urban decline, is a case in point. Once a great commercial hub, the city’s economic and political elites have placed all their bets on New Orleans becoming a tourist and culture centre. Indeed, just a month before the disaster, city leaders held a conference that promoted a “cultural economy initiative” strategy for attracting high-end industry. The other big state initiative was not levee improvement but a $450m expansion for the now infamous convention centre.

Sep 21, 2005

For cripes sake, keep your shirt on

And your pants, too. These nudie fund-raising calendars are getting boring. They've jumped the shark. It was amusing enough when the original ladies made the calendar in 2000, though I'm not sure it rated a full-length feature film, but now it's gotten out of hand.

A couple weeks ago on the local news in Baltimore, they did a story on some Eastern Shore community that made a calendar (this one was coeducational) to raise money for the volunteer fire department. A week later, in Boston, the evening news did a lengthy feature on a ladies club--all octogenarians--who posed for a calendar. All the calendars are the same: The gals pose with some prop carefully draped over any offending body parts. One will cover up with a guitar; another will be carefully posed behind some exotic perennial in her garden; the most disturbing Boston pose features a woman holding a giant cat with a thyroid problem on her lap.

And I'm not the only one who's perturbed. You can hear the desperation in the voices of the local anchors as they strive to maintain their perky yet coy chatter--insert a mild double entendre here; then turn and ask your co-anchor when we can expect to see him/her on a calendar; follow it up with a gushing tribute to the oldest of the loveable old bats who doffed her clothes. It's painful to watch.

Next time some garden club wants to raise money for their cause, might I suggest a different approach? Something new and fresh, yet tasteful, like biting the heads off live chickens.


Squirrel bridge: Something had to be done.

Campaign 2008: Bill for First Lady.

England: Where only suckers work.

Monica and Bill: He's top of the line; she's not quite as good.

Another gift from the Anglosphere to the world.

Go ahead, nominate me

I feel my readers should know that I'm more than willing to accept a MacArthur genius award, should one of you decide to nominate me for 2006.

Banned book week

Paul Pennyfeather isn't down with the ALA.
This is the week when we librarians show all you rubes out there that but for the grace of LIBRARIANS you would be living in a fascist hell hole. Unless you are a mover and shaker in the ALA, in which you already believe we live in a fascist hell hole, librarian resistance notwithstanding.

In a country where you have access to almost anything instantaneously, it is important to remind the unwashed that somewhere an elementary school is taking a book off the shelf that has references to oral sex and masterbation. Stupid, stupid people! Don't you realize that by denying your seven year old that book you are consigning him to a life of ignorance (or worse, prudence!). Don't come running to us when little Janie (or Johnny) turns to Cinemax to acquire that essential information.

Chaos reigns in Basra

Competing Islamist groups and their militias are contributing to the lawlessness--with help from Iran. And the "restrained" security offered by British troops has done nothing to put a stop to the confusion.
One western diplomat in Baghdad, who visited Basra recently, said the militias were becoming increasingly involved in the lucrative smuggling trade, controlling the ships that trade not only in contraband oil, but in sheep, dates and araq, an aniseed-flavoured spirit. ...

"Iran is said to be everywhere," he said. "Sending in weapons and funding and planning attacks to make life as uncomfortable as possible for British troops."

There are also real problems with the way Basra is run. In May, the police chief of Basra province told The Guardian he trusted only 25% of his officers. Half were secretly working for militias, and some were carrying out assassinations. Militiamen loyal to the radical Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr were kidnapping police not part of their group, occupying offices, and arresting Iraqis said to be violating Islamic law. "They kidnapped me and my five-year-old son because we did not display a picture of Sadr in our car," said Faris Husseini, a shopkeeper. "It's like being back under Saddam."

Karl Rove: Evil genius

Robbo the Llama Butcher has the scoop:
I have it straight from a white-hot source inside the Administration that the Sith Lord Rove ordered the second hurricane to be aimed at the Texas coast in order to a) give the Feds another shot at a lightning response, thereby erasing memories of earlier slowness and b) give the Texas Republicans a chance to show how to handle disaster relief competantly and make the Donks in Louisiana look even worse.

A star is born

Every major media event ushers in a new star: In the first Gulf War, Stormin' Norman Schwarzkopf rose to stardom; Katherine Harris became the anti-heroine of the 2000 election; and Kato Kaelin earned his 15 minutes of fame in the O.J. trial.

From the wreckage of Katrina emerges the newest star in the firmament: Lt. General Russell Honore. The blogosphere has embraced Honore's "Don't get stuck on stupid," comment. Video here. And this NPR interview provides further proof of the man's greatness. He will simply not get caught up in the political stupidities surrounding the storm.

This is a good thing, since General Honore has an actual job to do and can't afford to luxuriate in the blame game. Blunt, no-nonsense, sensible and competent, he provides a welcome antidote to the crocodile tears of Aaron Broussard, the shrillness of Mary Landrieu and the ineffectual whinging of Governor Kathleen Blanco.

I &hearts &hearts &hearts General Honore.

Artistic martyrdom


Anthony Daniels admires the works of Frida Kahlo, but wonders whether her current popularity is a reaction to her work or whether she had been exalted for her victimhood and her politics.

And yet there is something unhealthy, of equal intensity, about the disproportionate adulation that Frida Kahlo has received over the last two or three decades. I think that what has happened is that people with no objective right to do so have equated her suffering with their own, and have appropriated her work as a symbolic representation of their own minor dissatisfactions and frustrations, victimhood being the present equivalent of beatitude.

They say, “I too have known a faithless or a worthless man; I too have suffered from persistent headaches, dymenorrhoea, or sciatica; therefore, Frida Kahlo has understood me, and I have understood Frida Kahlo. After all, I have suffered just like her. Moreover, like me, she was a moral person, which is to say that she had all the right attitudes; she was on the side of the oppressed, at least those who were not in the Gulag; she loved indigenes as a matter of principle; and she took part in the holy work of dissolving boundaries, the boundaries between sexes (or rather, genders) and between cultures.”

Sep 20, 2005

Goings on across the pond

You may have heard that the Bishops of the Church of England would like all British Christians to apologize for the war in Iraq. The Rev. Peter Mullen, the Rector of St Michael's, won't be among their number.
What do the bishops know about politics and war anyhow? There is the story of Stanley Baldwin faced with a miners' strike and a threatened intervention by the bishops in his day. Baldwin said, "I'll let the bishops mediate between the government and the strikers if they'll let the National Union of Mineworkers revise the Athanasian Creed".

But the bishops have never let doubts as to their actual competence in any matter impede them from poking their crooks into matters a mile away from their proper expertise. Bishops and Synods in the Church of England have pronounced on every issue from glue sniffing to the hydrogen bomb these last twenty-five years. They want us to believe that they are lending us the divine perspective on matters too intransigent for professional political or military remedies. Thus they declare on the rightness or wrongness of all wars, they enter the minutiae of every aspect of social policy from the future of the inner cities to the operation of the coffee market.

And don't look for the Church of Scotland to join in either. The Rev. David Lacy, the Church of Scotland's moderator, says extremist Muslim clerics should leave the country.
"If we are their enemies they should have nothing to do with us, but they don't. They speak out against us from within and get heart operations and care on our system. And we are happy to do that for them, to have rights and care, but we expect them to love us in return and accept our right to be who we are."

Lacy also criticised civil liberties campaigners, whom he accused of stressing rights while underplaying the need for individual responsibility.

He added that those who believed it was Christian to "turn the other cheek" to such extremism were misunderstanding the Gospel message and claimed that believers had a duty to "confront evil".

Via Marcus.

Metrosexuals: Not dead yet

Simon Doonan, attending fashion week, is alarmed by the trend.
After dining, I returned to the fray for John Bartlett’s show. Taking inventory of the unguent-packed goodie bag alongside Cargo magazine editor in chief Ariel Foxman, I became privy to some shocking insights into the exploding world of men’s products. “Our focus groups show that men, straight men, are now totally fascinated by grooming and skin-care unguents,” said the good-looking, young Mr. Foxman, adding: “Even more than electronics.” The depressing idea that heterosexual men were now obsessing about the merits of Clarins “fatigue fighter” instead of doing what they’re supposed to do—watching videotapes of Paris Hilton, drinking beer, being lap-danced upon and punching each other—precipitated another huge mood swing.

Don't break out the champagne just yet

North Korea begins backtracking on nuclear deal.
SEOUL -- North Korea said today that it would not dismantle its nuclear-weapons program until the United States first provides an atomic energy reactor, casting doubt on its commitment to a breakthrough agreement reached at international arms talks.

The North's Foreign Ministry made the surprise demand a day after it had agreed at six-nation talks in Beijing to give up its arms efforts.


The administration of President Bush has opposed anything resembling a 1994 U.S.-North Korea agreement, which promised the North two light-water reactors for power. That project stalled amid the current crisis that broke out in late 2002 over the North's resumed nuclear-weapons program.

Ah yes, 1994. The year Jimmy Carter appointed himself to speak on behalf of the Clinton administration and "settle" the North Korean problem once and for all. We're still paying for that one.

Concentration camp good training for life as a POW

Tibor Rubin, a Hungarian Jew who was rescued by American troops from the Mauthausen concentration camp during World War II, will receive the Medal of Honor on Sept. 23 for his service in the Korean War.
When he was at the Chinese prisoners’ camp known as “Death Valley,” Rubin said he would pray in Hebrew for the U.S. soldiers — about 40 each day — who died in the freezing weather. He also took care of soldiers suffering from dysentery or pneumonia.

Rubin, who goes by the name Ted, called concentration camp good “basic training” for being a POW and applied lifesaving lessons he learned there. For example, Rubin said he would retrieve maggots from the prisoners’ latrine and apply them to the infected wounds of his comrades to remove gangrene.

Fellow POW Sgt. Leo Cormier said Rubin gave a lot of GIs the courage to live.

“I once saw him spend the whole night picking lice off a guy who didn’t have the strength to lift his head,” Cormier told the Army. “What man would do that? ... But Ted did things for his fellow men that made him a hero in my book.”

As a POW, Rubin turned down repeated offers from the Chinese to be returned to his native Hungary.

“I told them I couldn’t go back because I was in the U.S. Army and I wouldn’t leave my American brothers because they needed me here,” Rubin said.

Simon Wiesenthal dead at 96

The man who dedicated his life to tracking down Nazi war criminals died in his sleep in his home in Vienna.
Wiesenthal spent more than 50 years hunting Nazi war criminals, speaking out against neo-Nazism and racism, and remembering the Jewish experience as a lesson for humanity. Through his work, he said, some 1,100 Nazi war criminals were brought to justice.

''When history looks back I want people to know the Nazis weren't able to kill millions of people and get away with it,'' he once said.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry said Tuesday that Wiesenthal ''brought justice to those who had escaped justice.''

''He acted on behalf of 6 million people who could no longer defend themselves,'' ministry spokesman Mark Regev said. ''The state of Israel, the Jewish people and all those who oppose racism recognized Simon Wiesenthal's unique contribution to making our planet a better place.''

Calls of remorse poured into Wiesenthal's office in Vienna, where one of his longtime assistants, Trudi Mergili, struggled to deal with her grief.

''It was expected,'' she said. ''But it is still so hard.''

Wiesenthal was first sent to a concentration camp in 1941, outside Lviv, Ukraine, according to the Wiesenthal Center Web site. In October 1943, he escaped from the Ostbahn camp just before the Germans began killing all the inmates. He was recaptured in June 1944 and sent back to Janwska, but escaped death as his SS guards retreated westward with their prisoners from the Soviet Red Army.

Wiesenthal's quest began after the Americans liberated the Mauthausen death camp in Austria where Wiesenthal was a prisoner in May 1945. It was his fifth death camp among the dozen Nazi camps in which he was imprisoned, and he weighed just 99 pounds when he was freed. He said he quickly realized ''there is no freedom without justice,'' and decided to dedicate ''a few years'' to that mission.

Sep 19, 2005

Uptick in violence not a quagmire

Ken Wheaton:
As we move toward October, look for the violence in Iraq to get worse. We'll see more bombings of civilian targets and this will play into the "quagmire" script. What's actually happening, though, is we're entering the "death throes" phase that many mocked earlier this year.

Shi'ite pilgrims marching to Karbala will present a prime target to Iraqi insurgents, says Wretchard.
Apart from its symbolic significance to the Shi'ites, the pilgrimage to Karbala must constitute a prime target in a month full of prime targets for the insurgency. In a period when Iraq is preparing to hold a plebiscite on its constitution and the insurgents seek revenge for Tal-Afar, the pilgrimage is like a cherry sitting on whipped-cream topped fudge. Not only that, but as Bill Roggio points out, there is a whole slew of offensive activity against insurgents in Anbar, Haditha and Qaim and even Samarra and Ramadi. The enemy must react. Some sources have warned of a Great Ramadan Offensive aimed at getting back at the Coalition for all the knocks the invincible (are you listening George Galloway?) insurgency has received.


The next two weeks are a clear test of the insurgency's strength. But apart from the massacre of unemployed construction workers and unarmed civilians, the insurgents who "are writing the names of their cities and towns in the stars" are having a surprisingly poor showing.


Not just Bush: History of high level bathroom breaks.

Gnocchi and a bikini: Perfect together.

Idiom meets idiots: Overheard in New York.

Flame warriors: Rogue's gallery of trolls. Via Ace.

Zionist condoms: Interesting slogans.

The strange case of Conan Doyle

Exhumation seeks to prove that the Sherlock Holmes creator was a murderer. And a plagiarist.

A suicide bomber who lived

From the Religious Policeman:
He's now going to appear on TV, supposedly to discourage others. However, for those who are reassured by the fact that suicide bombing is not a hereditary profession, take heed of the fact that Saudi Arabia's unfulfilled womenfolk are fuelling one of the largest birthrates in the world, and there are plenty more where Ahmad came from.

Not a question you'll hear bandied about often

"Is Gwyneth Paltrow a genius?" Graduate students in Math review Proof.

Eliminating Islamic extremism in the UK

Will not be an easy task. In "Britain's Pedagogy of Hate," Jonah Avriel Cohen points to the poisonous hate literature being distributed in and around Britain's institutions of higher learning, 30 of which were cited as being home to extremist or terror groups.

Cathy Young discusses the committee that wants to eliminate Holocaust Memorial Day because Muslims find it offensive.
Unfortunately, even against the bloody backdrop of the 20th century, there are strong reasons to regard the Nazi extermination of the Jews as a unique atrocity. It was the first, and so far the only time that, as Cornell University historian Stephen Katz put it in his 1994 book ''The Holocaust in Historical Context," that ''a state set out, as a matter of intentional principle and actualized policy, to annihilate physically every man, woman, and child belonging to a specific people."

But the problem with the proposal goes far deeper. The other ''genocides" for which they want recognition include the Israeli killings of Palestinians.

RINOs sighted

At Evolution. Check it out.


American writers distrust the semicolon; the Brits, on the other hand, defend the puncuation mark for the "restful and easy" pauses it brings to prose. I'm in the pro-semicolon camp myself; I'm an Anglophile, after all. Anyway, my besetting sin is the dash--one of my professors in college told me my use of the dash was too extravagent despite the fact that he was generally in favor of the extravagent use of dashes--so what do I know?

Via A&L Daily.

NORKs to give up nukes

Seems the six-party talks were a good idea after all. Though Dan Darling predicts Bush will get no credit.
If this in fact pans out, people who have previously argued that the North Korean diplomacy was a complete failure will now start arguing that this would have happened anyway regardless of what the US did.

Sep 18, 2005

The perfect blog post

The Platonian ideal, I should think. It features horses, Madonna, sex with horses, sex with Madonna and The Sopranos.

Hitchens v. Galloway: Postmortems

Hitch won on points, says Andrew Anthony, who notes that after the Grapple in the Big Apple, the line for copies of Hitchens' book was twice as long as the Galloway line.

Hitchens, for his part, says he's not done with Galloway yet.
The experience of spending some hours on a public platform with George Galloway is disappointingly similar to the experience of watching him on al Jazeera, or on Syrian state television. One learns exactly nothing that one did not already know.

When addressing audiences in the Middle East, his metaphors of martyrdom and rape, and his celebration of the "resistance" forces are a little more florid, perhaps, but I shall have to concede that even in New York he has the nerve to tell an audience that the atrocities of September 2001 were essentially the fault of the United States itself. That was not his finest moment - and nor was it by any means his lowest one - but I began to see again his essential appeal, which is an utter indifference to embarrassment.

Elegy for the slip

Elizabeth_Taylor2I was just watching a trailer for Butterfield 8 on Turner Classic Movies. A great deal of time was given over to scenes of Elizabeth Taylor swanning around in her slip, something I recall she also did a lot of in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof as well. And what a slip! Molded to the body like a glove, it emphasizes the smallness of the waist and the fullness of ths hips and breasts without revealing more than a hint of cleavage.

In the movies of old, a woman in a slip was available: A gangster's moll might loll about in her slip. A slip signified desire: Anna Magnani lusted after Burt Lancaster in a slip in The Rose Tattoo. In fact, foreign actresses in general wore slips: Simone Signoret, Gina Lollobrigida and Sophia Loren all wore slips.

You don't see the full slip anymore these days--either in the store or in movies. There are camis, teddies, bustiers, thongs and tap pants, but a woman onscreen wearing any of these never packs the punch of Liz in her slip. Probably because it's not unusual to see women on the street wearing much less.

Sep 17, 2005

'PC drivel' or art?

I vote for the former. I particularly like the Dalrymple quote in Sissy Willis' post:
With admirable courage, Ms. Lapper has overcome her disability to become an artist with, alas, all the tedious conformism of her professional tribe: It goes almost without saying that she is a single mother sporting ironmongery in her nose. Her own art, according to a eulogistic Web site, "questions notions of physical normality in a society that considers her deformed because she was born without arms." The eulogizer, however, does not spot the irony here -- that Lapper has shrewdly (and, in the circumstances, understandably) commodified her armlessness, turning it to an advantage. If people truly considered her condition either normal or beautiful, it would be disastrous for her career . . .
What I find particularly ironic is the placement of the armless woman in Trafalgar Square, which pays homage to a man who was missing an arm and blind in one eye. Surely a triumph for the disabled?

Of course, Nelson probably didn't think of himself as disabled in the modern sense of being part of a protected class. Nor would he be likely to dwell on the "beauty" of his disability.

Were a statue of Nelson be erected today, how much emphasis would be put on the armless socket and blind eye?


Is the UN unsalvageable?
A United Nations that cannot even rationally define the universal problem of terrorism, or exclude Libya and Cuba from sitting in judgment of human rights, is a fatally flawed UN.

... [T]he UN remains largely at the mercy of nations for whom aggression is a relative term and a legitimate diplomatic tool, one that in fact they will gladly continue deploying at the UN itself, as they have in the past. It would actually be counterproductive to push for a more effective UN, so long as it remains, on fundamental matters of peace and security, pointed in the wrong direction.

The UN is the last utopian institution of the 20th Century. It sounded good at the time, now not so much.