Friday, November 21, 2003
SOMEONE IS KILLING AMERICANS IN IRAQ. WHO? The nature of the insurgency has remained unclear. Are the attackers remnants of the Baath killer squads? Or of the Iraqi Republican Guard? Or Al Qaeda members and affiliates? A "former Saddam aide" provides some of the answers (if he is to be believed) to Time magazine. The article, based on his revelations and on American intelligence data, is worth close and ruminative consideration.
OUR MAN IN IRAQ. General Abizaid is not the usual commander of American forces. To begin with, he is of Arab familial origin. More significantly he is truly a "military intellectual." This informative profile is from the new issue of The Atlantic.
THE PRESIDENT SPEAKS AT WHITEHALL PALACE. It may be a matter of taste--and political dispositon--but lots of observers have noted that the President gave a rather stirring and persuasive speech the other day in London. Here's the full text.
THE HAUNTING INTIMATION OF PRESIDENTIAL VULNERABILITY. According to this gripping column by George Will, JFK (assasinated 40 years ago, tomorrow) lived with the likelihood of an early death.
THE MASSACHUSSETTS DECISION ON "SAME SEX MARRIAGE." Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe says that the top court in his state has sent the nation over a slippery slope. Here is his challenging column examining the likely consequences.
THIS IS THE WAY THE WORLD ALMOST ENDED...MORE THAN ONCE. They are called "catastrophic asteroid impacts." The most recent one--a mere 65 million years ago--probably did kill off the dinosaurs and a good deal else. But that was as nothing compared to the one back 250 million years ago. The details are here in a fascinating story from yesterday's National Georaphic News site.
SAY THAT AGAIN. AT&T is patenting a system that will invalidate anti-spam systems? Doesn't that mean that they want to keep the Spam Plague going? For further edification do read this report from CNET News.
BRITAIN'S BEST-LOVED NOVEL. An ambitious survey is coming to its conclusion. Brits, when they name their single favorite novels, do work in Dickens, Austen, Waugh and Tolkien. But not Graham Greene, Arthur Conan Doyle or P.G. Wodehouse! Read about it here in the London Times.
MORE (AND LESS) THAN YOU EVER WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT THE FLU. This primer is provided by Dr. David Barry who recently shared his wisdom with us on a program about another subject: the Civil War.
AND ON THE LEFT, THE DEPARTMENT OF ENGLISH! So might a campus tour guide direct the attention of a group of visiting high school students--if the guide knew about these things. Erin O'Connor (a former guest on our program) does know a great deal about these things, as this item from her Critical Mass blog testifies.
THE PERFECT OVERTURE. So says Notlim Grebnesor, a not particularly distinguished--but quite enthusiastic--music critic in reference to Mozart's frontespiece for The Marriage of Figaro. Here it is performed by the Austro-Hungarian Haydn Philharmonic conducted by Trevor Pinnock.
Thursday, November 20, 2003
SO MUCH FOR YOU, FRANCIS FUKAYAMA!! No, history will not end--at least not in our time. And, Victor Hanson reminds us in this fine article, it proceeds through competition, conflict and-- at the inevitable worst--war.
RUSSIAN MILITARY THOUGHT ABOUT "FUTURE WAR." As in the U.S. and the NATO countries, Russia has a strong "military intellectual" establishment. In this article translated from one of their journals the nature of war-to-come is speculatively examined...with special attention to the challenge of terrorism.
FACING THE "BROWN" ENRAGED LEFT AT BARNARD. That challenge fell to Phyllis Chesler earlier this month. We discussed her book on renascent antisemitism with her a while ago on our program. Here she encounters it in a common campus manifestation. The article is from Front Page magazine.
THE CRAFT OF THE POPULAR (AND RESPONSIBLE) HISTORIAN. The prime figure in that category is David McCullough--and here we have him in an excellent conversation with Bruce Cole, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
SO WHAT ABOUT GLOBAL WARMING? Apart from all the other things worth worrying about, isn't this the greatest long-term danger that confronts us? Wellll...it is rather more complicated than that and this article from the Wilson Quarterly is as good a primer for lay-persons as you are likely to encounter.
IN CHESS, MAN CAN STILL BEAT MACHINE...but the gap is narrowing. Garry Kasparov represents all of us in his struggle against X3D Fritz. But he is doing his best while the programmers can go forward to construct a still better chess-playing program...perhaps by simulating Kasparov at his very best, as in his victories over X3D Fritz? The story is from BBC News.
AIMEZ VOUS SARTRE? We don't especially...but his centenary is approaching so the scholars are tuning in again. What they may discover is that Sartre was right about life: It IS absurd...or at least his was when he opted for communism as it was deservedly dying. Here is a somewhat friendlier--and properly informative--piece about him from The Chronicle of Higher Education.
MARTIN AMIS ON SAUL BELLOW. The 50th anniversary of the publication of The Adventures of Augie March has come. And with it a renewed flurry of essays on Bellow. This one by one of Britain's major (and uncontainable) literary figures has just appeared in The Atlantic. Emminently readable but possible rather hyperventilated in the goyish appreciation of the "Jewish Family."
HOW OLD IS WINE? Not that bottle of Chateau Brobdignac-Goutez in your basement but the mother of all wines. This report from the current issue of Time introduces the researcher (and his methods) who may be getting close to the answer.
AND THIS FELLOW TEACHES ENGLISH???!!!&%$# This is as good (that is as dismaying) an instance of post-mod, willful obscurity and disrespect for the language as we have read this year. It is from the University of Chicago's "distinguished" literary journal, Critical Inquiry.
BACH'S CONTEMPORARY AND ALMOST AS GOOD...and even more prolific. We speak of Georg Phillipe Telemann. Here is a moving chamber work in a minor key, demonstrating how "deep" rather than merely "bouncy" baroque can be.
Wednesday, November 19, 2003
BUSH IN BRITAIN. President Bush's state visit to the United Kingdom continues today. What better source for accurate analysis of his visit and the accompanying protests than the British magazine The Economist? According to this article, the protestors are hurting Prime Minister Tony Blair more than their intended target.
THE REPORTS OF HIS UNPOPULARITY HAVE BEEN GREATLY EXAGGERATED. According to this story in the Guardian (and the opinion survey they are drawing upon) Bush and his policies are far more fully endorsed in the U.K. than we have been told by the media mavens.
LOOKING AT THE "PRAGUE CONNECTION" AGAIN. Some say the connection between Al Qaeda and Saddam has never been adequately established. And some say it has. Here is an examination of the so-called "Prague Connection" between the former Iraqi regime and Bin Laden from Slate.
AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT. Campaign finance and the attempted reforms thereof certainly do not loom as large on the horizon as the situation in Iraq. But this interesting op-ed from Washington Post columnist David Broder discusses why Bush, Kerry and Dean have all opted out of public funding for their primary campaigns and what exactly that means.
WHILE WE'RE ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL. Yesterday's decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Court that declared laws against gay marriage unconstitutional throws a spanner in the works of many current presidential campaigns. And--at least according to this news analysis from the New York Times--might complicate things even more for the Democrats.
SHE MAY HAVE WON JULIA THE OSCAR...but are her claims of environmental health hazards real? This excellent expose of Erin Brockovich-Ellis and her latest crusade is from the upcoming issue of The New Republic.
THE RETURN OF THE (MERCHANDISING) KING. The impending release of the third movie in the Lord of the Rings trilogy prompted the Boston Globe's fascinating exploration of the commercialization of all things Tolkien.
DON'T KILL US! WE STILL LOVE THE CUBS! Perhaps this article is sacrilege coming from the radio home of the Chicago Cubs; nevertheless, we found this New Yorker essay on the Florida Marlins and their road to World Series victory compelling. The Cubbies always have next year...
BELOVED BY FUDDS AND KILGORES ALIKE. Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries" from Die Walkure has been immortalized by Coppola and satirized by Elmer and Bugs. Despite its inevitable association with wabbit killing, it remains a classic.
Tuesday, November 18, 2003
THE REVELATIONS OF KHALID SHEIKH MOHAMMED AND RAMZI BINALSHIB. These two leading figures in Al Qaeda were captured earlier this year. What has been learned from them thru extensive interogation about the 9/11 plot is reviewed in this stunning article from Der Spiegel.
THE SADDAM-OSAMA AXIS. A Defense Department working group has compiled an extensive list of Iraqi contacts with--and services to--Al Qaeda. A useful summary of the findings is provided in this article by Frank Gaffney, just published in Front Page magazine.
THE MAN FROM PARK AVENUE AND VERMONT. A book presenting "the real" Howard Dean has just been published by a leftish book firm in Vermont. Here's a friendly review of the friendly book as published last Sunday in the Philadelphia Inquirer.
A MAGAZINE WITH NO ARTICLES AND LOTS OF SMILES. Adding David Brooks to the New York Times group of columnists was a good idea. He is, to be sure, conservative...sort of. But, more important, he has his eye on the subtexts of popular culture. This article, connecting a new "women's magazine" to Alexis de Tocqueville will either push you toward getting a copy of Lucky or re-reading Democracy in America or, possibly, neither.
THE HORRIFYING NUKES IN OUR POSSIBLE FUTURE. Gabriel Schoenfeld establishes himself, with this Commentary article, as a modern master of worst-case analysis. But, unhappily, he makes a persuasive case for this worst-case.
THE PUBLIC INTRUSION OF THE CELL PHONE. Paul Goldberger, the emminent architecture critic, has had a valuable insight. At last one understands just why people strolling along the downtown streets and yapping away into the little device are so...aahh, annoying. The article appeared the other day in Metropolis magazine.
PIAF AND COCTEAU. Who ever knew that their lives were so entwined and in so curious a way? Je ne regrette rien, for spending some time with this fascinating article from the U.K. Guardian.
CAN PRINCE CHARLES FORGIVE HIS TORMENTORS? The question is seriously raised by Roger Scruton, considered by many to be the leading moral philosopher in Britain. Charles is villified, says Scruton in this article from the U.K. Spectator, because he has about him a remnant of the "sacred awe" that clings to royalty.
SOME ACADEMICS REALLY WERE "SOFT ON COMMUNISM"...and in this article from today's Wall Street Journal we get some important gleanings from a new book (Reds) that highlights the see-no-evil disposition toward the USSR at its worst. The new book is by an old friend of ours, Ted Morgan or, as he was in his earlier life, Le Comte Sanche de Gramont.
THE IMAGE OF THE PIRATE. How did they get to be so growly and amusingly grotesque? This article from Common-Place magazine goes a long way in answering an interesting question that we never thought to ask.
SIDNEY BECHET AND HIS FRIENDS. These great, mostly up-tempo, performances were recorde in New York during the 1930s. Dont miss: Shag, Weary Blues and Maple Leaf Rag.
Monday, November 17, 2003
IRAQ'S FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR. Nizar Hamdoon, who appeared twice on our program, died last July. Just a month before that he met with Dan Pipes and then addressed the Middle East Forum. Here is a full report from the Middle East Quarterly.
THE EUROPRESS DECIDES THAT ALL IS LOST! This light-hearted, but not benign, review of what the European press is saying about the war in Iraq has just appeared in the National Review.
ANOTHER PRESIDENT CLINTON (IN 2004?). We offer this startling story from today's Newsweek without further comment...but with an audible gulp.
A QUANTITATIVE STUDY OF PRESS "BIAS." According to these researchers, both the New York Times and the Washington Post do show bias in their descriptions of members of the Senate. The report of this "content analysis" study is from the Wall Street Journal.
EUROPEAN ANTISEMITISM HAS BECOME ENDEMIC. So says the author of this report just published in Policy Review, the journal of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.
WAS EARLY HOMO SAPIENS PARTLY NEANDERTHAL? The question arises in the light of a recent discovery in a Romanian cave. Here are some of the details in a brief story from Ananova.
WHAT EDWARD SAID SAID. He left behind some who adulated him and others who condemned him. Here, in an article from the British magazine Prospect, he gets a mixed (and, we think, fair) evaluation from one of his former students.
MACDONALD'S MCGEE: AN APPRECIATION. We share with Jonathan Yardley of the Washington Post, his enthusiasm for the Travis McGee novels of John D. MacDonald. MacDonald--who appeared once on Extension 720--is correctly seen here as a significant American writer.
I SEE A DARK-HAIRED WOMAN HERE! Or a younger man, or a doctor or someone making trouble at the office...or whatever. That's how you could start a "cold reading." For more on the art of the mentalist here's the Amazing Randi who has astonished our listeners more than once.