Friday, January 23, 2004
IS AL QAIDA DIMINISHED--OR IS THIS MERE WHISTLING IN THE DARK? Interesting if true--but given the publication source we're not fully convinced, even if this story is reportedly based on an interview with the State Department's "counter-terrorism coordinator." And we do hope that someone in counter-terrorism realizes that new groups like Al Qaida can--and probably will--arise when the original is dismembered.
A REAL "AREA EXPERT" ON THE IRAQI SHIA AND THEIR TOP AYATOLLAH. David Warren zeroes in with knowledge-based acuity and, in a few deft strokes, clarifies what Sistani and his followers are up to and how they may stir up a tripartite conflict (Sunni, Shia, Kurd) that could yet upset the U.S. settlement strategy.
KRAUTHAMMER MOURNS THE POLITICAL PASSING OF DEAN FROM THE SCENE...as do, probably, most of the people who work for Karl Rove. The McLuhanesque ananlysis provided here by "former psychiatric person" rings quite true to us.
MOHAMMAD AND MALVO IN THE GREAT NORTHWEST. This rather chilling story from today's Seattle Times reports that, a full month before the D.C. area murder spree, they were rehearsing in a field near Tacoma.
WHEN A BIAS-CHARGE IS POSSIBLE, RECUSE YOURSELF! That should be a basic principle in the judicial profession. Thus, we think the Columbus Dispatch editorialist is right about Scalia and the Cheney/Judicial Watch case.
THE MUSLIMS IN WESTERN EUROPE...where they have become an ever-expanding presence. This scholarly review (from H-Net) of an equally scholarly volume contains some startling stuff if you know how to read behind the professorial prose.
OH FOR A CATERPILLAR CRAWLING ON THE MARTIAN SURFACE! Still, more evidence of water, as reported here by Reuters, confirms that the neccessary (but not neccessarily sufficient) condition for life to have emerged and evolved on Mars does (or did--are you still following this?) exist.
WHO ARE THE GYPSIES? This article by Roma scholar Ian Hancock of the University of Texas is, inevitably, of compelling interest. Though the "gypsies" are named for their presumed Egyptian origin, they came--as most people now understand--from India. But their wanderings and further cultural evolution are still being researched and deciphered. Patrin, the source of this article, is a great Roma history website.
MEL GIBSON ISN'T THE ONLY PROBLEMATIC PUSHER OF THE PASSION. This great article is from the website of the Religion Writers Association. Worrisome passion plays go back, of course, to medieval times and to Oberammergau in Hitler's Germany. The effort to render them more palatable, while supposedly true to the gospels, is pursued by many organizations...and they are linked in this valuable survey.
THE GREEN EYED PROFESSOR EMERITUS FROM NORTHWESTERN. Joe Epstein is an old friend of ours and a fairly frequent guest on our radio program. Nevertheless we have always envied him for his wit, his insousciance and his sharp sports jackets. This excerpt from his treatise on envy appeared last year in the Washington Monthly.
A MILLION AND A HALF AUTO ACCIDENTS DUE TO CELL PHONE USE!! The figure is staggering but it has recently been reported by a research group at Harvard. This ain't funny McGee! And what is so unfunny about it is summarized here in an article from the current issue of American Spectator.
CARRERAS AS DON JOSE IN CARMEN. At this generous site the great Barcelonan tenor is heard (with others) in a number of selections from various performances of the Bizet opera. We particularly commend the selections from the Salzburg, 1985.
Thursday, January 22, 2004
IRAQI WMDs COULD HAVE BEEN MOUNTED IN DAYS...said Dr. David Kelly whose suicide was widely interpreted to be proof, somehow, that there were no WMDs!! Much that is surprising (and also supportive of the Blair government's position) has just been revealed by the BBC.
NORTH KOREA RIGHT NOW. This report of an extended recent visit was presented last week at the Brookings Institution. There are a number of surprises or, at least, fresh observations to be found here. Longish, but well worth printing out and reading in full.
THE IOWA BOUNCE! The first poll report from the neighborhood (Boston Herald) shows that, after Iowa, Kerry has taken a strong lead in New Hampshire. And since this coming primary requires people to go into polling booths and vote privately, these data are probably more predictive of outcome than were any of the polls focussed on the Iowa caucuses.
THE ARGUMENTS AGAINST THE BUSH IMMIGRATION REFORM PLAN. Victor Davis
Hanson makes a strong and, we think, decisive case against what has been recently proposed. Here it is in an article from the Wall Street Journal.
Hanson makes a strong and, we think, decisive case against what has been recently proposed. Here it is in an article from the Wall Street Journal.
OSAMA WON'T BE AS EASY AS SADDAM...says Husain Haqquani, a Pakistani observer writing on a Pakistani (but English language) news and opinion site. We think we detect an undertone of gloating--or at least the shifty ambivalence that has marked the approach to Al Qaeda of the Pak military and intelligence forces.
THE BLIND WATCHMAKER OR "INTELLIGENT DESIGN?" The sophisticated, as opposed to primitive, anti-Darwinian approach is put to close test and analysis in this strong article from the Skeptical Inquirer.
AT THE NADIR IN NEW YORK. The folks who are "down" are the "intellectuals." Or, at any rate, that is what the author of this piece from the New York Observer calls a group of writers being sued for the paltry fees they were paid by Lingua Franca. And then there are the magazine writers abandoned by their domestic companions...Hard times, read on.
A CHRISTIAN CRITIQUE OF "THE DA VINCI CODE." Historians of religion reject it on a scholarly basis; and, of course, serious Christian religionists find yet other reasons to disdain the religious import of this popular novel. Here, with some additional links of interest, is an article from an evangelical/intellectual site.
WHEN YOU ARE BEING STUPID...go to sleep and you may wake up smart...or, at least, less stupid. This is not idle advice. It is based on RESEARCH as this report from Reuters reports.
SELDOM PERFORMED HERE, OFTEN PERFORMED THERE. That's Rimsky-Korsakov's opera The Snow Maiden. And here is a full performance, all stops out, from the St. Petersburg White Nights festival of 1999. Great singing by an all Russian cast!
Wednesday, January 21, 2004
PERLE AND FRUM PRESS FOR A "FORWARD" POLICY AGAINST "TERROR." In this op-ed from today's New York Times, these two "hard-liners" outline--as they did in their recent book--a strategy that must focus on the states that sponsor or enable Islamist terrorism. Both Perle and Frum have appeared on our program and our recent discussion with the former can be heard here.
SING MUSE, THE WRATH OF ACHILLES...and of Governor/Doctor Dean. Here's another take on the anger-management problem of the once-leading Democratic candidate...this time from George Will.
DEAN WAS DISLIKED BECAUSE OF HIS LACK OF LIKEABILITY! We would not venture to accuse Bill Safire of edging into a tautology...particularly when his analysis rings true. But it does remind one of Moliere--or perhaps of Arthur Miller whose salesman lived by the maxim: "It isn't enough to be liked; you've got to be well liked."
SORRY, WE CAN'T HELP IT...one more item on the scream heard round the world. This article about Dean's "concession speech" is from The Australian, the equivalent of USA Today in the antipodes.
THE REAL STORY FROM TEHRAN...is by no means as encouraging as some have suggested. This informed and highly informative article from the new issue of the Economist indicates that the "conservatives" (i.e. the tough mullahs and their tending-toward-Islamist associates) are winning the fight.
WHAT TO DO ABOUT (OR TO) THE CHRISTIANS. Religious minorites have been a subject of confused policy for a long time. This famous epistolary exchange between Pliny the Younger and the Emperor Trajan is illustrative.
WHEN BUDDHISM THREATENED EUROPE...or, when the philosophers and theologians thought that it did. This finely detailed review from H-Net summarizes a major work on an earlier east-meets-west conflict.
L'AFFAIRE EASTERBROOK. A touch of anti-semitism from a leading figure at the New Republic? That was the tentative accusation a few months ago. The ensuing brouhaha is aptly reported and examined in this article from The Columbia Journalism Review.
LITERARY POLITICS IN THE UK...is no more thoughtful and responsible than in New York or Stockholm. Things are in some disarray with the Booker Prize, as this Guardian interview with the new chairman of the prize committee reveals.
HITCHENS ON PROUST? Well, it isn't that strange a combo. After all, they do both rank among the great gossips of the western world. In point of fact the encyclopaedic Hitch has provided, in the new issue of The Atlantic, an illuminating--and inevitably entertaining--essay on the master of the cork-lined room.
IS THERE A FUTURE FOR OLD-FASHIONED RADIO? This story from the current Newsweek suggests that satellite radio is moving faster and faster---and that the kind of broadcasting we do (here) may go through some content-altering changes due to the new technology. We find ourselves rather Luddite-ish on this one.
WANT TO HEAR A GREAT GREEK TENOR DOING VIENNESE OPERETTA? You've come to the right place. Do check out this wonderful musical site which we have just accidentally discovered.
Tuesday, January 20, 2004
WHAT HAPPENED? THE MORNING AFTER VIEW FROM DES MOINES. The political columnist for the Des Moines Register confirms that, finally, Doctor Governor scared the caucusees.
A TOUR D'HORIZON OF THE MIDDLE EAST. We think that this is as good an overview of what has gone wrong in the Arab nations as can be found in the western press. Pollack remains an outstanding intellectual asset whose thoughts are always worth close consideration.
"WHOLE LANGUAGE" IS A DISASTER; PHONICS IS THE REMEDY. All competent and non-ideological reading-education specialists know that to be the case. Findings like these, from the US Department of Education, will--one hopes--restore our first graders to early literacy.
SADDAM, CLOSE UP. This fascinating article is by a "renowned Egyptian playwright and columnist." Or so says MEMRI who have translated and reprinted this intriguing piece.
MARS FROM ABOVE. While the Rover vehicle crawls around on the surface, the Mars Express Orbiter is sending some great views of the red planet's (it really is!) terrain. Here's a report--with striking visuals--from New Scientist.
SOVIET GENOCIDE. Three books dealing with the devastation wrought by the Stalin regime are discussed in this important essay from the Claremont Review. Two of the authors--Applebaum and Weitz--appeared last year on Extension 720.
THE ENTHUSIASM OF HIS HOLINESS HAS BEEN SOMEWHAT EXAGGERATED! Apparently the Pope did not blurb Mel Gibson's new film, "The Passion of Christ." Was it all a misunderstanding or is the not-too-subtle hand of the PR guy suddenly visible?
IS THE KORAN THE KEY...to understanding the source and the program of Islamist terrorism? Not at all says Dan Pipes in this article in today's New York Sun. Then what is? Read on.
THE MLA, JUDGE BORK AND SADDAM. All come under the discerning scrutiny of Hilton Kramer in the Notes and Comments section of the new issue of his fine journal, The New Criterion.
HOME (MORE OR LESS) ALONE. That appears to be how many in the modern city spend a good portion of their (sex) lives according to a major study from the University of Chicago. The senior researcher, Ed Laumann, is our former Dean and has been a guest on our program.
A GREAT PERFORMANCE GROUP: LOS CHACOS!! Spirited versions of some South American (largely Venezuelan and Argentinian) music--some in folk tradition and the rest composed by "pop artists."
Monday, January 19, 2004
FRIENDLY ENEMY OR HOSTILE FRIEND? What to make of Syria and whether to foster "regime change?" These questions, according to this report in the new issue of Newsweek, are under examination--and, so far, Assad is getting a pass because of his "cooperation."
WITH OR WITHOUT WMDS...the Iraq war was justified. So say many "liberals" according to this overview in the Christian Science Monitor.
THE LANGUAGE (AND POLITICS) MAVEN FORECASTS THE STATE OF THE UNION SPEECH. We can always count on Bill Safire for a kind of lyrical cynicism that is usually effectively predictive. (That means he calls the shots accurately.) Here, in today's column, he lays out the rhetorical design of tommorrow's address. Incidentally, here's our roster for the post-speech discussion.
HANSON ON BUSH ON IMMIGRATION REFORM. Victor Davis Hanson is something of a phenomenon: an academic who writes with verve; a classicist who understands modern, as well as ancient, war; and a credentialed analyst of the problems posed by the vast Mexican northward migration. Here is the audio of our discussion with him of his book, Mexifornia. And here is his op-ed from today's Wall Street Journal.
THE LORDLY LORD BLACK...and the future of the UK Telegraph, the Jerusalem Post and the Chicago Sun-Times. Those are the leading newspapers of the Hollinger Group, which is now dissolving before our eyes. The latest chapter is recounted in this story from today's New York Times.
HE SAID WHAT? From the major English language newspaper in Saudi Arabia comes this report today on our old friend Mahatir, the former prime minister of Malaysia. Is this the same guy who a few months ago blamed everything on the secret Jewish conspiracy to rule the world? Again, go know...
THE FORD FOUNDATION IS NOT THE FORD MOTOR COMPANY! But that's where the money came from. The Foundation--not the company--seems to have taken a decidedly anti-capitalism turn according to this (shall we say "interesting?") article from today's issue of Front Page.
THE ATTACK ON THE (ENGLISH) FAMILY. What is described here in an article from the UK Spiked site is the disruptive intrusion into family life by organizations ostensibly interested in child welfare. The same process is well underway--and has advanced further--over here as compared to over there.
ARE YOU NOTHING MORE THAN THE STORIES YOU TELL? That is the fashionable view among the post-modernists. But it just isn't true says Galen Strawson in this fine essay/review from the UK Guardian.
WHAT'S IN A NAME? When it comes to books the name (i.e. the title) may matter enough to make the difference between obscurity and best-sellerdom. Apparently they understand these things in Australia as witness this fine piece from The Age of Melbourne.
INTERNET USERS ARE SOCIABLE!! And smart, too. Some of the prevailing stereotypes seem to be contradicted by this recent survey reported by CNN. However, we feel constrained to point out that a major souce of "non-veridicality" in such surveys is "positive self-presentation" by the respondents.