Friday, December 19, 2003
PUBLIC OPINION SUPPORTS THE WAR! So asserts Robert Kagan in this op-ed from today's Washington Post. Kagan, though outside the government, has been one of the main "strategically-oriented" advocates of the Iraq undertaking.
THE DEMYSTIFICATION OF SADDAM HUSSEIN. It is against our policy to have two items from the same source. But today's column by Charles Krauthammer in the Washington Post is just too good to pass by.
TO GENEVA, NO; TO DEMOGRAPHY, YES. These are the default positions of Arafat and the Ramallah elite, according to the correspondent reporting to Al Ahram (the "semi-official" Egyptian newspaper).
BEYOND THE PLO: WHAT DO THE "ARAB REFORMERS" WANT? An important--and independent--group of Arab intellectuals has now issued its second major report on what is needed to pacify and restore the Middle East. That report disappoints those who took heart from the first one. Here is the analysis put forward in the current issue of Commentary magazine.
AN INDEPENDENT VOICE IN ZIMBABWE. Despite Mugabe's ruinous and murderous regime, a vocal opposition persists. The Independent newspaper published this devastating, and brave, critique last Friday.
WHAT TO DO WITH GENOCIDAL KILLERS...after you have caught them. Put them on trial--is the obvious answer. But that, in turn, raises many questions. Here, a scholarly book and its scholarly reviewer examine some issues. Among them: the way you run the trial may distort--or hide--some parts of the history of the genocidal program. The prime example is how the Nuremberg trials drew attention away from the murders done by the Einsatzgruppen. This important review essay is from H-Net.
MIDDLE AGE (AND BEYOND) IS WHERE THE MONEY IS! But advertisers and TV programmers live by the 18-34 myth says this plugged-in, op-ed columnist for the Wall Street Journal. This great article ought to be made required reading for every twenty-something ad agency person and for every thirty-something network executive.
EARLY CHRISTIANITY AS A REVIVAL OF TEMPLE JUDAISM. The hypothesis is startling--but it is advanced with possible plausibility in a new work that is reviewed here in this week's issue of the Times Literary Supplement.
NOT SMOKED SALMON; LOX!!!! Mark Kleiman, in his always informative blog, yesterday clarified one of the basic issues in Jewish gustatory discourse. Incidentally, what is a "toroidal" bagel?
SHALL WE DINE IN BUDA OR OVER IN PEST? And should it be French, Italian, Austrian or Cuban? Apparently the restaurants of Budapest are fully restored to their former glory--though this feature from the English-language Budapest Sun says nothing about bagels and lox!
A SAMPLER FROM THE GREAT MUSICALS. From this rich source we recommend the selections from Oliver, Oklahoma, The King and I and A Chorus Line. But don't miss Miss Marmelstein.
Thursday, December 18, 2003
BUCKLEY WEIGHS IN...on the question of how to try Saddam. When he wants to, the founder of the National Review can make a clear argument without quoting from Plautus, Thucydides or Saint John of the Cross.
MARK STEYN REFLECTS ON WAR CRIMES TRIALS AND DR.(WHY NOT "GOVERNOR"?) DEAN. This guy speaks strongly (Steyn, that is) and ironicizes with the best of them. The piece is from yesterday's Wall Street Journal.
IN THE NAME OF GOD--WHATEVER THAT IS. Does Allah differ from Jehovah or from "the Lord?" Evangelicals, according to this article from Slate, are the source of the insistence upon diety differentiation. Tonight on our program, we are scheduled to discuss the history and present status of American evangelism.
ANOTHER BAGHDAD BLOGGER. We aren't sure who this person is, but he (she?) seems to be in the thick of it. The Mesopotamian's personal reportage and the comments from readers of the blog are a window onto the human side of the history being enacted in Iraq.
ZIMBABWE AS MAN-MADE HELL. And Mugabe is the man! This fine interview with Samantha Power (a former guest on our program) appeared recently in The Atlantic. One looks forward--eagerly but with some dread--to the forthcoming book in which she presents elaborates on the matters discussed here.
ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVISM OR "ECO-IMPERIALISM?" It may well be the case that western, liberal concern with environmental protection is doing great injury to those who live in the less developed world. The argument is strongly made in this article by Steven Milloy of the Cato Institute who specializes in the study of "junk science."
BY FAR THE MOST INTERESTING OF THE PARISIAN EXISTENTIALISTS. That's Albert Camus, in our judgement--and the author of this good mini-essay from the Britsh journal, Prospect, seems to share that view.
HAS EVERYTHING NOW BEEN SAID ABOUT INFINITY? If so, then infinity might be finite! Here's an interesting review that takes less-than-infinite pains with three recent books on the limits of limitlessness.
LET US HAVE ABOUT US MEN THAT ARE ENERGETIC AND TRUSTWORTHY! Caesar might have said that to Mark Anthony. It is, at any rate, what respondents say to some sociopsychological researchers about the kinds of politicians they would vote for. The study presenting these findings was reported in a recent issue of Nature magazine.
MARRIAGE, DIVORCE, CHILDREN AND THE U.S. GOVERNMENT. Marriage, everyone sort of agrees, should be encouraged because children do better with two parents than with one. On the same grounds, divorce should routinely provide for "joint custody." But, things are seldom as simple as they seem. The complications are directly addressed in this interesting article from the current issue of Reason magazine.
TWO CHEERS FOR LUST. An emminent British philosopher examines the most heavy-breathing of the seven deadly sins in an article from the New Statesman. Lust in the hearts of politicians gets some special attention.
TAKE SOME GYPSY TUNES, A VIOLIN AND A PIANO...and the only other thing you need is a swinging comoser like Dohnanyi and presto: Ruralia Hungarica, a fine modern work here performed by Tasmin Little and Martin Roscoe.
Wednesday, December 17, 2003
BILL SAFIRE BREAKS WITH THE ADMINISTRATION...on a matter of executive privilege (or is it executive protection?) that does need to be ventilated. And the vice president is in the middle of the muddle. Here's today's column from the New York Times.
HOW MIGHT LE MONDE DIPLOMATIQUE REPORT THE CAPTURE OF SADDAM? Something like this, according to the folks at Front Page magazine. What this satire lacks in subtlety it makes up in amused (amusing?) contempt.
MEANWHILE, BACK IN KABUL...the Loya Jirga has just convened and is on track for approval of a new constitution and elections to follow. Sounds good, except for the persistence of the Taliban and the unreliablity of the war lords. This report from the UK Economist is, as usual, informative and measured.
AS FLEETING AS THE FOG...are the effects of "martial victory" upon poll-measured popularity. Just remember Bush senior right after the first Gulf War. Still, for what its worth, here is the CBS poll, released yesterday, showing the big positive blip for George W.
HOW TO INTERVIEW A MASS MURDERER. Here's some probably reliable information about how they are going about the interrogation of Saddam. One wonders whether the examining psychologists are Freudians, Skinnerians, Gestaltists or merely polygraphers.
ZEYAD HATES THE TYRANT BUT MISSES(?) HIM. The Baghdad blogger we linked on Monday is struggling publically with his ambivalence and confusion. He is, clearly, an honest and thoughtful young man who--like most of his countryman--has a lot to work off.
HOW LOW SHE SANK AND HOW STUPIDLY! Kathy Boudin, recently paroled for her (political) murder conviction has been memorialized by Susan Braudy who was once a college "friend." Here's a review of the book from the Boston Globe. Tonight Braudy and David Horowitz appear on our radio program to discuss the leftist route to posturing--but murderous--violence.
AND MEANWHILE, BACK ON CAMPUS. Occasionally we link to a review from H-Net, the professorial super-site. Apart from providing a sample of modern academic prose, this particular review asserts that "utopian idealism" (which has probably done more harm than good) arose in England in the 17th century. Hmmm...could be.
DYLAN THOMAS IN EXTREMIS...as he and his poetry always were. Jeremy Clarke, writing in the Spectator, reviews a new biography and gets off a few great stories of his own.
YUM, YUM...BUT WHY? We ran across this curious, but not unpersuasive, mini-essay addressed to the question of just what makes food "taste good." Well, it is an arguable hypothesis and, at any rate, amusing reading.
CLASSIC LOUIS ARMSTRONG...and, in the band, Earl Hines, Don Redman, Eddie Condon, Albert Nicholas and Pops Foster!! Great recordings from the late twenties.
Tuesday, December 16, 2003
HOW THEY FOUND AND TOOK SADDAM. Newsweek got on the case as soon as their Baghdad reporter tipped them. And they have done an excellent job in getting much of the fascinating detail of the capture. Here is their coverage as given in yesterday's special issue of the magazine.
THE VIEW FROM TEHRAN. In case you wonder whether the Iranians are pleased with the capture of the guy who waged WMD war against them--well, yes they are, but...the but is that their supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, advocates a similiar terminus for Bush and Sharon. The story is from today's Hindustan Times.
DEAN, BUSH AND SADDAM. David Brooks is the newly-hired "second conservative columnist" at the New York Times. (Bill Safire is, of course, the first.) He may be testing the patience of his editors with this comparison of how the governor (have you noticed how suddenly he is being called "Dr"?) and the president interpret the meaning of the capture of Saddam.
SOME CALCULABLE CONSEQUENCES OF THE CAPTURE...as seen by John O'Sullivan who, like Brooks above, tends to view Dean (and most of his competitors for the nomination) as caught in a trap of their own devising. The column appeared today in the Chicago Sun-Times.
THE EU DISASTER. What went wrong in Brussels last weekend? Can the European Union write a constitution acceptable to all? As usual Jacques Chirac is in the middle of the trouble! Here is the account given in this week's issue of the Economist.
WHAT REALLY HAPPENED AT THE IRAQ NATIONAL MUSEUM? And why did everyone get it wrong? The question is properly asked and answered in this report from the Columbia Journalism Review.
THE SECOND VOYAGE OF THE BEAGLE. The Brits are close to setting down their Mars explorer on the surface of the planet...on Christmas day if all goes according to plan. Once again, a major question is whether any evidence of organic molecules will be found. This well-detailed story is from the UK Independent.
MAGIC AND THE OCCULT AS GRASS ROOTS, ANTI-ESTABLISHMENT RELIGION. That isn't quite what Bill Ellis has concluded, but close enough until you read this fascinating article about him, just published in the Chronicle of Higher Education.
HOW HITCHCOCK DID IT. A new biography of "the master of suspense" has just appeared and, in this review from the Globe and Mail of Canada, one learns something interesting about how he beat (or handled) the studio system.
JACQUES CHIRAC DISSES HECTOR BERLIOZ. Le President seems to be refleively prone to frustrating good purposes. This time he has nixed the reburial of the great composer's remains in the Pantheon among the "immortals." This wonderful article about the great "perturbed spirit" of romanticism is from the Canadian journal, La Scena Musicale.
THE DAMNATION OF FAUST. If this great work doesn't entitle Berlioz the highest status as a major figure of French culture, what would that require? This recording of a full performance features Olga Borodina and Michael Druiett.
Monday, December 15, 2003
THE CAPTURE OF SADDAM HUSSEIN...as reported this morning in multimedia, interactive form by the New York Times. Do, by all means, follow through and examine the five multimedia features. This sort of presentation is something the Times does really well.
AL JAZEERA STRUGGLES TO COME TO TERMS WITH THE CAPTURE OF SADDAM. If the Arab world is mixed in its reaction to the war and now to the capture of the tyrant, we would expect ambivalence on the screens and pages of their major media institution. Our expectations are fully confirmed by this article from today's English-language edition.
TRY HIM IN IRAQ...says George Will in the Washington Post today. As usual, his analysis is measured, historically informed and close to convincing.
MEANWHILE BACK AT THE DEAN CAMPAIGN....the question is "how do we play this thing?" Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard, in this piece posted today, suggests that the capture of Saddam has slowed down the Dean juggernaut in a possibly irredeemable way. There does seem to be something rather wishful about this judgment but time (probably about two weeks!) will tell.
THE STORY OF SADDAM...has been told by many and will probably be worked up as a TV movie within the month. But here is a sharply informative account of his climb to power and of the uses he made of that power. The article is from today's Baltimore Sun.
FROM A BAGHDAD BLOGGER. Zeyad is a 24 year old, Iraqi dental student who has been blogging from Baghdad for the last few months. His account of getting the news--and of almost losing his life to a band of teenaged Saddam loyalists--is gripping reading. Do follow through and read the responses to his December 15th entry.
THE COMING COLLISION WITH ANDROMEDA. When? Not soon. But meanwhile everything else is shifting, merging and differentiating in our portion of the universe. This article from the new issue of Scientific American is one of the most fascinating--and comprehensible--accounts of galactic dynamics that we have ever seen.
IF MARIO PUZO WERE A POLITICAL MAVEN...this is the sort of analysis he would offer to a nation straining to understand the Democrat's presidential contest. This amusing--and not unedifying--flight of rooted fancy is from today's Wall Street Journal.
THE MASTER OF NEW HAVEN AND THE KNIGHT OF WOEFUL COUNTENANCE. Harold Bloom of Yale--who has been our guest on the program--has decided that Cervantes ranks with Shakespeare after all. Here is his startling, and possibly eccentric, introductory essay to a new edition of Don Quixote.
AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT! Namely, a fine review of what sounds like a fine book about the last great acting couple...Lunt and Fontanne. John Simon, writying for the New York Times, is far less acerbic than usual.
HOW ABOUT BEETHOVEN'S FIRST? As commonly commented he is, in this symphony, halfway bewteen Mozart and his own mature compositional identity. Whether or not that is the case, what is true is that this rollicking piece gives great delight as here in a fine performance conducted by Roger Norrington.