Friday, November 14, 2003
THE CIA'S "BLEAK ASSESMENT" FROM IRAQ. The report that seems to have pushed the policy toward quicker "hand-over" of governmental power in Iraq leaked very quickly. As have the details of the new plan, reported here in The Australian newspaper.
BUT COULD HE TELL HIS OWN MOTHER? This great article from today's Washington Post gets behind the prevarication curtain that covers the CIA's covert agents.
A MAJOR REPORT ON IRAQ FROM A TRULY "RELIABLE SOURCE." The analyst is the redoubtable Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He has just returned from his latest on-the-ground investigation and here are his sobering conclusions.
O'ROURKE IN IRAQ. This one isn't funny and isn't meant to be...even though it's P.J. O'Rouke being interviewed here, by The Atlantic, about his Middle Eastern perigrinations.
LABORATORY GENERATION OF "LIFE!" It has already happened, at least at the viral level...and the consequences are partly calculable and both hopeful and scary. The higher import of such Promethean hubris may require extended contemplation. These striking new developments on the Frankenstein front were reported in today's issue of New Scientist.
AND SPEAKING OF HUBRIS! This view of the mayor of New York is supplied by John Fund in the Wall Street Journal. Apparently you can buy the mayor's office if you are a billionaire, but political wisdom doesn't come with the package.
FAKE SCIENCE...is often more interesting (certainly more amusing!) than the real thing. Here's a top ten of science scams published yesterday by the UK Guardian.
THE LOWERING OF HIGHER EDUCATION. Is there a plot in the western world to destroy the very "Idea of a University?" Surely Cardinal Newman would turn in his mortarboard if he knew what successive British governments have done to their universities. It is all brilliantly and scornfully laid out by Stefan Collini in this recent article from the London Review of Books.
MEL GIBSON, THE VATICAN, THE ADL AND JESUS. What a mess! And who needs this at a time when seriously threatening anti-semitism is rising in the world and on the European and American left?
ON THE MAKING OF A GREAT MUSICIAN. That, Yehudi Menuhin surely was and how he constructed himself makes a fascinating story--reviewed here in an entry from Brian Micklethwaite's Education Blog.
A MASTERWORK BY LOUIS SPOHR. He was a fine (but is now a rather neglected) composer in the German Romantic tradition. This work of his late years is beautifully written and is here movingly performed.
Thursday, November 13, 2003
IRAQ WAR III IS BLAZING. The US military have obviously begun to pursue a more "proactive" plan. This informative story appeared yesterday in the Los Angeles Times.
THE SOROS SAGA, CONT'D. What was (or is) Soros thinking? And why haven't more Democrats rejected what he said? Could big bucks have something to do with it? The article is from the New York Sun.
HITCHEN'S REJECTS THE CLAIM THAT WE COULD HAVE GOT OUR WAY PEACEFULLY IN IRAQ. In his always-spirited style, he takes on the story that Perle had a real regime-changing offer in his hands.
FRIEDMAN'S REACH MAY WELL EXCEED ANYONE'S GRASP. His New York Times column today on Saudi/Israeli potential interdependence is, perhaps, visionary--and, perhaps, an improvisation because the column was late. Or, is there anything in his argument that would be taken as useful advice in Riyadh?
FORTY YEARS AGO IN DALLAS. A newsman who was on the scene on November 22, 1963 describes the way the news of Kennedy's death reached the press corps. This chilling reminiscence has just appeared in American Heritage magazine.
NAT HENTOFF ON MRS. SCHIAVO'S "RIGHT TO DIE." Hentoff is a great ACLU activist but on this issue he seems to have broken with them completely. In this column from the Village Voice, he argues strongly for her right to live. Disturbing and fascinating!
REVISITING FRANCE UNDER THE NAZIS. Robert Gildea has done a major historical study of life during the period of the Vichy regime. In this interview, just published in the Atlantic magazine, he examines the considerable French cooperation with, as well as resistance to, the Nazi occupiers.
WHO OR WHAT KILLED THE DINOSAURS? We had thought the question to have been answered (Death Star theory and all that) but it now appears to be otherwise. This fine article from the Economist will fill you in on the details of the new scientific speculation about the rise and fall of the whole oversized family.
HOW DARK IS THE UNIVERSE AND WHY DOES IT MATTER. Some 70-75% of the universe is made of "dark matter." We have learned this only in recent years and CERN on the border of Switerland and France has been the base for much of the relevant research. Here, from the CERN Courier is an article for lay persons who want to understand the what, why (and "so what"?) of this crucially important area of astrophysical research.
A SONG OF MYSELF I SING. Whitman's line comes to mind as one reads this interesting scientoid explanation of how music appeals to the extent that it duplicates or resonates to our "inner harmony." This intruiging article appeared a few days ago in the Boston Globe.
EDMUND MORRIS ON THE REAGAN "MOCKUMENTARY." The word coined by Morris--a former guest on our program--is just right, as is his light contempt for the bunch who tried to put that program on CBS. This op-ed is from yesterday's New York Times.
THE TANGO AS SYMPHONIC FORM. Astor Piazolla had everything to do with moving the tango to the concert stage. Here are eleven tangos by Piazolla as recorded by the Buenos Aires Symphony
Wednesday, November 12, 2003
MONEY DOESN'T BUY HAPPINESS--OR HUMILITY EITHER! George Soros has decided to buy a victory for the Democratic Party. Read all about it here in this rather stunning story from the Washington Post.
THE PLOT THICKENS: IS THERE A SOROS-DEAN AXIS? The Wall Street Journal got in early on this one and here's their take on what the blue-eyed billionaire (and Dr. Dean) is (are) up to.
AND SPEAKING OF DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CONTENDERS...here's a deep "take" on the General who hopes to wrest it away from the Governor/Doctor. Boyer does this sort of thing with high panache for the New Yorker.
WE DON'T USUALLY TAKE TWO ITEMS FROM ONE SOURCE...but we had to make an exception for this engaging (and slightly worshipful) article about Kasparov and the chess-playing machine. It appeared yesterday in the aforementioned Wall Street Journal.
KOLAKOWSKI GETS THE KLUGE PRIZE...and note that "kluge" means intelligent in German. At any rate his achievement and service in overturning communism, were considerable as Roger Kimball--a frequent guest on Extension 720--points out in this article for the New York Sun.
UK RESPONDENTS TO THE GOVERNMENT: LAY OFF OUR KIDS NUTRITION! This interesting survey shows UK parents to be rather aggrieved at their government meddling in the way they feed their kids. But they are getting almost as quickly almost as fat as American kids. Does anyone here know how to play this game? The article is from Spiked magazine.
THE DESTRUCTION OF PENNSYLVANIA STATION. It still hurts, particularly for native New Yorkers like the present proprietor. And obviously, Alistair Cooke--who still writes and broadcasts great stuff for the BBC--hasn't got over it either.
PODHORETZ AND THE PROPHETS. What does the former editor of Commentary make of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Amos? This review, not unfriendly but somewhat bemused, is from the journal of the Claremont Institute.
WAS THE GREEK WAY BETTER THAN THE CHINESE--OR VICE VERSA? A book that sounds like a "must read" is reviewed here for the London Review of Books and the UK Guardian.
A COOL GENIUS. A new biographer of Glenn Gould suggests that as a way of unraveling the enigma. It sounds, in this review from the Globe and Mail, like a book worth reading. And it reminds one to listen again to the new release of his early and late performances of the Goldberg Variations.
BACH'S ART OF THE FUGUE. Here are two separate performances of this great work, one of the main foundation stones upon which Western music was erected.
Tuesday, November 11, 2003
WHERE IS AL QAEDA? More and more it seems that they are flooding into Iraq. Thus we now have a battlefield where they may be confronted. So say these three reporters who have been covering the Middle East for the Los Angeles Times.
WILL THE GOVERNING COUNCIL GOVERN? They are the closest thing to a new Iraqi government. What holds them back from full address to the issues and opportunities? This informative piece is from the new issue of the National Review.
A SOLDIER DIES: OKINAWA, 1945. He was a relative of our friend and frequent guest, Victor Davis Hanson, who had not yet been born. This moving and gripping evocation of another young Victor Hanson is from a book that has just been published.
THE LIMITED PARALLEL BETWEEN GERMANY THEN AND IRAQ NOW. This article from Foreign Affairs in 1945 has been reprinted by the editors because of its bearing upon the worrying situation in Iraq right now. A fascinating excursion into the relevant past. Do check it out!
YOU SHOULD BE HAPPY. WHY AREN'T YOU? Easterbrook of the New Republic is worried about your worries. Wessel of the Washington Monthly explains it all--or almost. This issue is worth at least fifteen minutes of close pondering.
FREE SPEECH IS NOT ALIVE AND WELL...on the American campus. For the latest outrage see this column by Professor Mike Adams of the University of North Carolina.
WE KNEW HIM, HORATIO. A FELLOW OF INFINITE GRACE. The passing of Irv Kupcinet is--or at the moment seems--the end of an era in which journalism was a form of nobilty manque. At any rate, Kup will be much missed and affectionately remembered--as he is here in an obit by Neil Steinberg of the Chicago Sun-Times.
HAS RAUCH LOST ITS CLOUT? Brent Bozell suggests that the general public is saturated with (or merely disgusted by?) cynically sexed-up TV programming. His observations and argument are strongly stated in this recent article in Human Events.
WHERE HAVE ALL THE SCHOLARS GONE? And is the scholarly life now anything more than a laughable affectation? Julia Klein evokes Casaubon of George Eliot's Middlemarch as a relevant (and strangely present) personifaction of the scholar at a loss in this new article from the Chronicle of Higher Education.
THE FAT--AND EVER FATTER--WORLD. Commerce is adapting to the hard physical reality of our having more and more "du pois." Where it will all end know the lords of McDonalds. It is, however, a kind of solace to know that the makers of products and services are ready to profit in the "full bodied" market.
A FINE PERFORMANCE OF SCHUMANN'S SECOND. The work has a brooding, romantic quality that is well-captured in this live performance by the Philharmonia conducted by von Dohnanyi.
Monday, November 10, 2003
WHAT DOES IRAQ NEED? MORE TROOPS...much more, say the boys at the Weekly Standard. Here is the current analysis and exhortation from the team of Kristol and Kagan. Their argument probably reflects one side of the ongoing debate "at the highest level."
EUROPE IS ON THE WAY OUT!!...says Mark Steyn in this article from the current issue of the U.K. Spectator. The reasoning is "demographic" and the affect is lightly contemptuous.
POSTREL ON MILTON FRIEDMAN. A recent guest evaluates the lasting contribution of a guest from previous years. Until he left the University of Chicago, Friedman appeared often on our radio program.
THE (COLLEGE) PRESIDENT DISGRACE RACE. Which of these characters will emerge from his presidency capable of recovering from its corrupting effects? The current John Leo column expands the academic rogues gallery.
TERRORISM, CIRCA 1605. Guy Fawkes' day was celebrated in the United Kingdom last week. This item from the news desk of the BBC asks how much damage could have been done in London if the 36 barrels of gunpowder had been succesfully exploded. Al Qaida would have been proud if they had pulled it off!
UMBERTO ECO IS NOT PULLING YOUR LEG! And in Italian he is not "pulling your nose." This delightful excerpt from his new book appeared recently in the UK Guardian. It examines (with copious illustrations) the art of translation.
A FRENCH SOCIOLOGIST WHO HATED THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO...but learned to love boxing in the adjoining ghetto. Thats Loic Wacquant whose study of the "manly art" is about to be published. The New York Times introduces him to the world in this article published yesterday.
LITERATURE, LIFE AND EVOLUTIONARY PSYCHOLOGY. A book review from a technical journal that will be lucid and interesting for all laypersons. Read it, you'll like it.
WHAT ABOUT ACUPUNCTURE? The Skeptical Inquirer is the place to go for evaluations of modes of "alternative medicine." Here is their considered examination of the ancient Chinese medical art. Conclusion: if it works at all, it's not for the reasons given by the puncturer.