Friday, January 30, 2004
HAD THEY NO SHAME, NO CONSCIENCE? The list of those who took vast oil bribes from Saddam Hussein and paid back with support or with oppositon to US policy is a long and disheartening one. A heartening counterweight is the fact that these revelations were made in one of the newly established Iraqi newspapers. Here's the report from today's UK Telegraph.
THE RECIPIENTS OF SADDAM'S LARGESSE. The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) provides a translation of the Iraqi article and a long (but still partial) list of those organizations and individuals who took Saddam's bribes. We find big "takers" in the PLO, in Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan--but also in France, Italy, Spain and especially Russia.
THE PRO-WAR LEFT IS SUPERBLY REPRESENTED...in this essay (or one might call it a neo-Platonic dialogue) by Paul Berman. It appeared recently in Dissent and we recommend it as required reading to be held before the eyes of those of your friends who are still enthusiasts for Governor/Doctor Dean.
THE LOPSIDED PRISONER SWAP. It should be called just that when the Israelis get back one prisoner for hundreds of Arab attackers who were being held in their jails. Whatever possesed the Sharon bunch to go for this deal? A columnist for Ha'Aretz examines the possibly disastrous consequences of this superstrange swap.
WHO IS KILLING THESE MEN; WHEN AND WHERE? A horrific photograph from sometime and someplace in the Holocaust is brooded upon in this article from the UK Guardian.
TO MAKE A SUPERCONDUCTOR THAT OPERATES AT ROOM TEMPERATURE...all you have to do is produce a stable condensate of fermions. But you knew that already! But did you know that they have just recently accomplished that very task at the University of Colorado? One of the promising consequences will probably be the production of vast reserves of electrical power at virtually no cost!! Here's the story from New Scientist.
ANOTHER SCIENCE NOTE: SOME AUSTRALIANS HAVE EVIDENCE OF LIFE ON MARS...or so this report from the Australian Broadcasting System tells us. This is not nutso-stuff. It is from a credentialed group of researchers at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation.
THE COMING OF VOIP! That's Voice Over Internet Protocol and, according to James Glassman in this article from yesterday's Washington Times, it will soon produce transformative consequences in our communications systems and in the social order itself--though that last is our terminology rather than his.
ALL IN ALL HE MIGHT HAVE DONE BETTER TO STICK TO LINGUISTICS. We speak, of course, of Noam Chomsky, the Pied Piper of American radical youth. Here, from Front Page magazine, is a close examination of the way his mind works--or of the way he chooses to defame just about everything the US has done, is doing and will do in the larger world.
WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF...you asked someone with a brilliantly feverish mind to contemplate the mystery of "secret names?" Here's what poured forth when someone (perhaps himself) asked that of David Mamet. This appeared recently in Three Penny Review.
A WORK OF HIGH MAJESTY. That is how many would desribe the great Toccata and Fugue in D Minor by J.S.Bach. This strong rendering of the original organ score is performed by David Goode.
Thursday, January 29, 2004
THE DEMOCRATS DILEMMA...as seen by one of their best and brightest, Robert Reich. We don't agree with him on much but we esteem him highly as a very thoughtful and articulate analyst not given to political bombast. And, full revelation...he was once our student (at Dartmouth College, rather a long time ago when we were all unbelievably young).
SO THIS IS HOW THE NEW IRANIAN "COOPERATIVENESS" WORKS? Delegates from forty countries are gathering in Teheran to plan new strategies to "confront the American great Satan." The account is from today's Jerusalem Post.
HOW THE WHITE HOUSE SHOULD RESPOND TO THE TESTIMONY OF DAVID KAY. We think that Jonah Goldberg, in this piece from the National Review, has it just about right. So, let's hope that someone persuades the president to "go the modified hangout route."
OUR "FRIENDS" HAD BETTER BECOME FRIENDS AGAIN. Or else, the western European powers, as they opopose American "hegemony," may find their civilization undermined by an implacable enemy. So says Robert Kagan in this new afterword to his influential book, Of Paradise and Power. Our discussion with him about that book can be heard here.
CHINA IS OCCUPIED WITH ITS OWN DOMESTIC AMBITIONS...FOR NOW! But after a 20-year period of further growth they plan to really throw their weight around in the world. That is the considered conclusion reached by Robert Sutter in this carefully crafted evaluation published recently in the Washington Quarterly.
OUR COUSINS, THE NEANDERTHALS...or are they only third cousins, twice removed? Paleo-anthroplogists are still arguing the issue but some important new studies may (or may not) resolve it. At any rate, this report from the BBC is of compelling interest, especially if you care about your "deep geneology." And some of the links provided here are equally absorbing.
AND AFTER MEIN KAMPF HE WROTE ANOTHER BOOK...from which we learn much about the implacable, mad ferocity of Hitler's hate for the Jews. And as Omer Bartov of Columbia University sees it, if you change a few of the nouns, this screed reads rather like the new, contempoary anti-semitism. This is a compelling and disturbing article that deserves full attention.
MAIS AIME-T-IL BRAHMS? Do you remember Francoise Sagan's novel of almost the same title? Shared aesthetic preferences are supposed to foster admiration. But, according to this survey in the Washington Post, none of the Democratic candidates dares to name any "favorite music" beyond the pop and rock realm. Hmmmm...
CHANGING THE GUARD (AND THE WORKING PHILOSOPHY?) AT THE NY TIMES BOOK REVIEW. The New York Observer has the fascinating inside dope about the confusion over how (or if) to reorganize the Book Review. We rather like the idea of less coverage of fiction--or at least of fictionalized accounts of sensitve children coming to consciousness or palptating adolescents discovering the joy and pain of one or another form of dawning love.
AND SPEAKING OF BOOK REVIEWS...here's the fellow in charge of those at The Atlantic accounting for what they choose to review at what may well be America's best general magazine. Of special interest is Schwartz's disdain for most books focussed on politcs and public affairs.
AND YOU WERE SKEPTICAL ABOUT ASTROLOGY? If these amazing readings, sign-by-sign, don't persuade you, then you must be a Scorpio or else an Aries on the cusp.
A FIRST GENERATION JAZZ MAN. Kid Ory had a long, long career that started in New Orleans and ended in post-WWII Los Angeles. Thus these are "late" performances of classic and traditional jazz--and fine performances as well featuring two great clarinetists, Barney Bigard and Omer Simeon.
Wednesday, January 28, 2004
THE "NEWSPAPER OF RECORD" ON YESTERDAY'S NH PRIMARY. They still do this sort of thing as well as any other source--as long as they don't let their editorializing proclivities swamp their reportorial responsibilities.
AN ALMOST DISINTERESTED VIEW OF KERRY. William Saletan of Slate lays out the man's assets and also his considerable limits (so far) as a campaigner. But Saletan and his Slate buddies will, surely, be rooting for the man from Massachusetts rather than the one from Texas.
NOT IN THE KERRY CAMP. Front Page magazine goes at the "hidden Kerry" trying to establish that the junior senator from Massachusetts is richer than the senior one and just as much prone to "situational" rather than value-based ethics. A partisan piece, but with a good deal of information that we had not encountered elsewhere.
FRONT PAGE GOES AT KERRY, CONT'D. This second installment of the "get Kerry" piece appeared in the magazine today.
WILL FINDS A CURIOUS MEANING IN THE RISE OF JOHN KERRY. The end of feminized politics? You had better read this one closely. Even more than usual, GW packs a lot of provacative ideas into a short, columnar space.
HUTTON CLEARS BLAIR AND THE BBC CHAIRMAN RESIGNS. Apparently, the Prime Minister was blameless in the Kelly/BBC affair. Here's the BBC story about its own big goof. The linked stories sketch out the likely further consequences.
ON THE 59TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE LIBERATION OF AUSCHWITZ...the website of Deutche Welle (the German national broadcasting system) features an article on the renewal of European anti-semitism--and locates one of the main sources in the ever-enlarging Muslim population.
SCOLD OR SEER OR BOTH? That's the question about "Dr." Laura as raised in this sharp essay/review in the new issue of Atlantic magazine. And we agree with Caitlin Flanagan that, on the large issues, Laura Schlessinger is right on target.
THE BOOK ROW THAT WAS. Jonathan Yardley of the Washington Post is one of the best book reviewers we know and, like most of the breed, he loves to wander around in bookstores. The wandering was best on Fourth Avenue in New York in the old days--and in this article from last Sunday's paper he lovingly describes it just as we remember it.
OBITUARY AS STAND-UP. Mark Steyn is a more-than-brilliant writer who can't resist quipping even as he appreciates. Thus he memorializes the recently departed with startling joie-de-vivre. Just consider this recent portrait of Ann Miller--and the earlier ones of Elia Kazan, Charles Bronson, Katherine Hepburn, Leni Reifenstahl and Sir Dennis Thatcher.
PROKOFIEV'S SECOND PIANO CONCERTO. Sometimes called the "dark concerto," this work from 1923 is superbly performed here by Alexander Toradze in a live performance with the Kirov Orchestra conducted by Gergiev.
Tuesday, January 27, 2004
A MAJOR ESSAY BY COLIN POWELL. This argument pro vita sua has just appeared in Foreign Affairs. One assumes that it has been vetted at the White House and thus, that it is, as well, the administration's defense of our Iraq policy for which we expect to receive the full support of our erstwhile partners "as our strategy unfolds."
SENATOR EDWARDS AT THE BOWLING ALLEY. We're lucky that Dave Barry was there too. This account will probably persist in memory as the defining image of the New Hampshire primary. Personal disclosure: we used to live in New Hampshire and once, poking around from the Hanover base, we bowled in Merrimack. Must have been...
THE VARIETIES (AND UNIVERSALITIES) OF TERRORIST BELIEF. This wide-ranging but historically focussed essay on the nature of terrorism is by one of the leading political "scientists" of our time. It has just been published in the City Journal of the Manhattan Institute.
PEGGY NOONAN MAY BE GUILTY...of committing an argument ad hominem but, all the same, she does sensitize the reader to the possibility that one of the candidates is...uh, peculiar.
MAKE ROOM FOR THE CHIRAC/HU ENTENTE CORDIAL. It is heartening though to see some French MPs showing the new President of China some well-deserved discourtesy. The report is from the BBC.
BY FAR, THE BEST MARS EXPLORATION SITE...is the one provided by NASA and JPB. Here it is in all its multi-link majesty. Browse away...and be sure to check the wonderful Mars photos as they come in.
REQUIRING THAT A CHRISTIAN STUDENT GROUP HAVE A CHRISTIAN PRESIDENT IS "DISCRIMINATORY!!" So rules the Priest-President of Gonzaga University, a Jesuit institution. As usual, FIRE is on the case...and here is their summary of this more-than-usually bizarre instance of campus PC gone ga-ga.
A MONSTROUS, VILE BOOK HAS WON THE BOOKER PRIZE...while the Prix Goncourt went to a merely run-of-the-mill biography. Anthony Daniels, in the current issue of the New Criterion, examines the significations that are thereby revealed.
AND SPEAKING OF BOOKS...what do the very long ones do for us? And the pithy, short ones? Some insights are to be found in this breezy but correctly observed essay from The Age of Melbourne.
ADD THIS TO THE LIST OF FAMOUS LITERARY QUARRELS. Solzhenitsyn was not often commended for his graciousness. But in this "triste histoire" as reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, he comes off particularly badly.
WHEN STARBUCKS CAME TO PARIS...in defense, this Wall Street Journal (Europe) guy goes looking for the authentic existentialist cafe. But he finds both Le Flore and Les Deux Magots corrupted by commercialism. Of course, he should have gone across the Boul Mich to the Brasserie Lipp.
A MODERN MASTER OF FLAMENCO. Paco de Lucia is considered by many to be the first ranking Flamenco guitarist of our time. His playing combines perfect technique with biting ferocity and is unique over all the wide range of flamenco performers. Be sure to listen to the Alegrias.
Monday, January 26, 2004
THE SAUDI WAHHABIS ARE COMING!! In fact, as Steven Schwartz informs in this article from the Weekly Standard, they have all along been active in the Iraqi assaults upon coalition troops. But now they are flooding over the border in vast numbers and, apparently, with the full knowledge and probably the collusion of the Saudi government.
AS USUAL THE CSM LEADS. We think the Christian Science Monitor is doing the best job this season in presenting informative, unslanted and interesting political coverage. Here is their summary story on the New Hampshire primary as it appeared this morning.
WHERE IS RUSSIA GOING? Colin Powell is concerned about anti-democratic trends and wonders whether the Putin regime shares our values. With this Reuters story as background we will be discussing what is--and what should be--happening in Russia at this time in their post-Soviet evolution. Three academics join us in the discussion tonight at 9 PM Central Time. The program can be heard here.
THE ARAB STATES' DILEMMA PRE AND POST THE INVASION OF IRAQ. This excellent essay from a left-oriented mideast expert appeared reently in Dissent magazine.
THE EFFECTS OF IMMIGRATION LIBERALIZATION...in Holland where a recent parliamentary report finds that some rather untoward consequences have become more than manifest. The story was carried in the UK Telegraph last week.
DO IDEAS HAVE CONSEQUENCES...in the U.S., a nation supposedly hostile or indifferent to "ideas?" Yes, but in a distinctive way that explains much of our history. So says Wilfred M. McClay in this provacative essay from the Wilson Quarterly.
THE EVOLUTIONARY VALUE OF RELIGION. Darwin himself posited that religion assisted evolutionary survival. More recent thought on the meaning of the universality of religion is addressed in a recent book that is thoughtfully duscussed in this essay from Human Nature Review.
AND AFTER MARRIAGE DISAPPEARS, WHAT? The dramatic statistic is that a majority of Scandinavian children are now born "out of wedlock." How did this come to pass? What are the predictable, longer-range consequences? What did the legalization of gay marriage have to do with it all? Stanley Kurtz, in this article from the current Weekly Standard, presents the basic data and, on the link to gay marriage, offers an interpretation that will surely be controversially discussed.
IF YOU TOUCH MY THIGH/YOU GONNA GO TO HIGH...so sang Bessie Smith setting down the sexual misconduct rules. They don't manage to achieve even that much clarity at Duke University according to this account from the always interesting blogsite, Critical Mass.
MARGARET ATWOOD LOOKS TO THE EAST. A Canadian literary master examines the lot of women in the Middle East (more particularly, in Iran) by way of a review of six recent books. This essay was recently published in the newly established Canadian magazine, The Walrus.
A NEW BOOK BY ONE OF OUR RADIO PROGRAM GUESTS...is reviewed by another such guest. And John McWhorter finds Human Accomplishment by Charles Murray a noble try at discovering the sources of intellectual and artistic greatness. Our discussion of the book with Murray can be heard here. And the audio of our recent discussion with McWhorter is here.
JANE AUSTEN AS RELIGION REPORTER. We think that a better term than "public theologian." But, at any rate, this truly novel literary essay delighted us as we read it just last night. It comes from the current issue of First Things.
SCHUBERT'S SECOND SYMPHONY. Two seperate performances are available here, the first conducted by Dohnanyi and the other by Norrington. We thought the first more stirring and the second more lyrical and both excellent.