Friday, February 20, 2004
NOW THEN, WHO IS SMEARING WHOM? As usual, Krauthammer cuts through the persiflage and the journalistic wall of obtuseness---and in this instance from today's Washington Post he clarifies, in a few deft strokes, which side is going "uglier" sooner.
HAS THE MAYOR OF SAN FRANCISO CREATED THE CUTTING-EDGE ISSUE? This article from today's Washington Times suggests that that may be the case. But, of course, it cuts both ways: the Democratic candidate will be under strong pressure to support "gay marriage" and risks losing a good portion of "middle America" if he does.
A DISTINGUISHED SOCIAL COMMENTATOR IS SHUT OUT. Amitai Etzioni, an old friend, eminent sociologue and founder of the Communitarian movement, can't get this important op-ed published--except on his own blog. It is pertinent and well-argued. Why has it not been accepted by any of the usual vehicles in which his mini-essays regularly appear?
THE DREARINESS OF UNIVERSITY DIVERSITY: This story from the student paper at Northwestern needs no further comment--except to ask what exposure are the freshmen getting to Sinti culture or to Costa Rican issues?
THE LEFTISM OF THE UNIVERSITY INTELLECTUALS: Never has it been more of a cultural near-universal. The great question is: Why and how has it happened? Edward Feser addresses these and related issues in this essay--one of the most illuminating analyses we have yet seen of the "treason of the (American) clerks." The essay, which appeared last week in Tech Station, is in two parts. Be sure to click to the second after reading the first.
WHAT ABOUT RICHARD DAWKINS? He is a great and wonderfully readable popularizer of Darwinian theory and, as well, the source of some exciting new hypotheses. He is also unrelievedly--perhaps obessively--an antireligionist. H. Allen Orr takes him on for his militant atheism in this fine review/essay from the current issue of the New York Review of Books.
SHAKESPEARE FLUNKS THE SAT....or, at least, its new writing test portion. This is imagined, cooked up and prankishly put forward by some people at the Princeton Review (which trains people to do well on the SAT). Still one may legitimately ask how modern advocates of bare-bones expository writing would have judged Shakespeare or, for that matter, Edward Gibbon, Samuel Johnson, et al.
A BITTER, BRILLIANT POEM FROM WWII: Eventually they made John Betjeman Poet Laureate of England but long before that, during the war, he dashed off this perfect and comical portrait of the higher selfishness in times of adversity.
THEY ARE HITTING PAY-DIRT ON MARS: This story from today's New Scientist reports further data suggestive of liquid water and thus of possible life. Will the next step be the appearance of little green bacteria asking the robot to be taken to its leader?
WHAT A RIFF FROM STEYN!! Just ask him to free associate to the recent fracas stirred up by Conan O'Brien's TV show in Montreal---and out comes a brilliantly funny stand up routine which, at the same time, makes just the right point about the dangers inherent in trying to placate large minorities by the "nil nissi bonum" tactic.
CLASSIC ARMSTRONG...with, among other great jazzmen, Jack Teagarden, Joe Sullivan, Bix Beiderbecke, Earl Hines and Pops Foster. Don't miss: Wolverine Blues, Old Rocking Chair, Sunnyside of the Street and West End Blues.
Thursday, February 19, 2004
THE INTELLECTUAL LIBERAL DEMOCRAT TAKE ON THE MASSACHUSSETTS GAY MARRIAGE RULING. We think it fair to designate the co-editor of Prospect magazine that way. And we wonder whether his "pragmatic" rejection of the march toward gay marriage is predictive of what the Democrat presidential nominee will be saying.
GEORGE SOROS IS A PUZZLEMENT...and so Heather Wilhelm went to hear him lecture recently at the University of Chicago. Her report--as given in today's National Review--may, or may not, reduce the confusion but it does convey that his is a presence that will not easily turn to gnomic silence.
NO MORE RADIO OBSCENITY: ALSO SPRACH KARMAZIN! Since we are in the business we are not unaware of the common trend toward broadcast foulmouthery. It took some hard words from congressional grillers (particularly Ms. Wilson of New Mexico) to get Viacom's attention. Now let's see if the order to the troops, as reported in this story from the New York Post, will be heeded so that Gresham's Law of broadcasting can be reversed.
THE SPECTRE THAT IS HAUNTING EUROPE...these days is, according to The Economist, anti-semitism. Anti-jewism would, of course, be a better designation--but either way can the conference reported here have any real consequence or will it merely be a ritual occasion for "passing the buck?"
THE TROUBLED LIFE AND STRANGE DEATH OF A GREAT WRITER. This new article from the London Review of Books memorializes Malcolm Lowry, author of Under The Volcano and of "a clutch of strangely inspired novels and short srories." The true nature of his mysterious death, it is suggested here, was probably conspiratorially obscured.
HOW STANDS THE REPUTATION OF JEAN PAUL SARTRE? Not very high according to his most recent biographer, Bernard-Henri Levy, who cannot forgive or explain his decent into crude Stalinism. Nor can this reviewer of the new book, writing in Policy Review (a Hoover Institution publication) forbear asking "how such a brilliant man could be so stupid."
DON'T SHOW THIS TO YOUR ANALYST...or maybe you should...it rather depends on the level of his persisiting "narcissistic defect." Though this piece from the Los Angeles Times is written in jocular accent it does, in fact, reflect the growing consensus--even within psychiatry--about the works and ways of Sigmund of Vienna.
A PYONGYANG MEMOIR...from Kim Jong Il's rather blank-minded cook. Or are these vignettes of the North Korean maximum leader and resident genius done in a kind of prose haiku? Just like sushi they do leave you wanting more.
WHAT DID ROSSINI DO AFTER HE STOPPED COMPOSING OPERAS? Well, he did some chamber music but, more than that, he devoted the next 37 years to serious eating and became one of the great gastronomes of the 19th century. Click around this item from Culture Kiosque and you will find some of the maestro's favorite recipes.
AN EARLY MODERN MASTER, ERNST DOHNANYI. This serenade, written just over a hundred years ago, sounds as if it were composed last year--except, perhaps, for its easy indulgence of melody.
Wednesday, February 18, 2004
THE KRAUTHAMMERIAN WORLD-VIEW. Upon receiving a major award from AEI last week, Krauthammer layed out his weltanschauung in forceful and admirably unevasive terms. Here is the full text of that speech which, though longer than his usual columns, is as compellingly readable.
HERE'S HOW THEY TOLD THE STORY IN MILWAUKEE...from yesterday's late edition of the Journal-Sentinel. The paper had earlier endorsed Edwards and here they can be observed snatching victory from the jaws (not too tightly clenched, to be sure) of defeat.
SO WHAT ABOUT TODAY'S POLL? It reveals what every political pollster (and almost every political scientist) knows about contemporary American attitudes toward candidates. The applicable characterization can be borrowed from Saul Bellow's Augie March: "way down deep it's shallow."
BUCKLEY CONTEMPLATES SEX, POLITICS AND THE PRESS. This rather rambling rumination has a fascinating point if you know where to look for it. And if not, it is almost as titillating as the "scandals" herein discussed.
THE INTERNET AND THE BLOGS JUST MIGHT MAKE THE COLUMNISTS MORE RESPONSIBLE! Why and how? Because those who doubt the quotes attributed (usually to conservative politicians and advocates) can now trace and track and readily call the quoters to account. All is well explained in this recent article from the U.S.C. Annenberg Online Journalism Review.
WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM THE GRAND MUFTI...they got through another unobserved Saint Valentine's Day in Saudi Arabia. Here's how the Arab News (leading English language paper in the country) explained the basis for the Fatwah.
ARTISTS AT (COLD) WAR. Writers, painters, directors--and even dancers--took sides and served them during the long run of the cold war. Reviewing a major work on that portion of modern history for The Australian, Peter Coleman makes clear that if both sides were equally guilty, the Soviets were far more equal.
THE ANTI-JEWISH MOVEMENT HAS MANY FACES. The Canadian Minister of Justice has written an uncompromising and deadly-accurate analysis of the recrudescent anti-Jewishness that is now moving in the world--as much on the political left as on the right. This appeared on Monday in Front Page magazine.
DO YOU KNOW ABOUT THE ILLUMINATI, THE TRI-LATERAL COMMISSION...and all those other conspiratorial enclaves of hidden power? Why does such stuff flood the rumor mills and leak over into public discourse--sometimes even into the pronouncements of presidential candidates. This recent essay from the Boston Globe has considerable explanatory utility.
FOR SOME REALLY GOOD TALK...do tune in on the characters in Crochet Castle or Nightmare Abbey, two of the great "conversation novels" by Thomas Love Peacock. For more on this undeservedly forgotten and still delightful early Victorian, read on.
FOR THE ESSAYIST WITHOUT A TOPIC. That could be a problem, particularly for a columnist who must do a mini-essay three or four times a week. We stumbled upon this interesting and entertaining (because it reveals an interesting mind at play) solution at a dictionary website.
A DOMINATING PRESENCE IN AMERICAN POPULAR MUSIC...in the '20s and 30's was Paul Whiteman who, among other things, commissioned and performed Gerswin's Rhapsody in Blue which is heard here in a number of performance versions--together with a generous supply of other recordings featuring many of the great jazz musicians of the time.
Tuesday, February 17, 2004
WASHINGTON HAD BETTER LEVEL ON THE PAKI-NUKE-PROLIFERATION HORROR. The always unfettered French journalist, Bernard-Henri Levy, knows a great deal of the ugly and scary detail and he lays it out in this piece from today's Wall Street Journal. Surely, what he knows has long been known to our own intelligence people. The time has come for the administration to talk straight about the horrific danger into which Pakistan has plunged the world.
BBC NOTES PRESS COVERAGE OF BUSH'S "PROBLEM" AND NON-COVERAGE OF KERRY'S...but they don't seem to recognize or be bothered by the flagrant presence of the double-standard. This curious story from their news service should be read as much for what it tells us about the reporters and their editors as for what it says about the histories of the candidates.
SO LET'S LOOK A LITTLE MORE CLOSELY AT THE BBC...or is that a variant of kicking a man when he's down? At any rate the Boston Globe's former London bureau chief seems to know where all the bodies are cryogenically stored.
WHAT IS THIS THING CALLED LOVE? Well...current research with monogomous voles suggests that oxytocin, vasopressin, dopamine and the right receptors in the brain (the area has now been located!) make it all possible--not only for voles but for you and your inamorata. Read all about it in this well-detailed article from the current issue of The Economist.
CAN "INTELLECTUAL DIVERSITY" BE LEGISLATED? David Horowitz has been waging a campaign to reduce the leftward tilt in faculty hiring and promotion at American universities. John Leo comments wisely on the Colorado test of the Horowitz campaign BUT he misses one crucial point: it may be that these days the disciplines themselves (i.e. sociology, anthropology, literary studies, history and even philosophy) have not recovered from the induced leftism that took over in the '60s and '70s.
THEY DON'T SPELL MUCH BETTER AT YALE THESE DAYS! That may or may not be consolation to Professor Sechrest but, as one veteran academic can tell him, the general decline in literacy is discernible to anyone who has, over the last thirty years or so, taught undergraduates anywhere from West Texas to the Ivy league.
A MOST WORTHY CENTENARIAN! George Kennan, the policy intellectual's favorite diplomat, has turned one hundred. And John Lewis Gaddis is pledged not to publish his biography until the "father of containment" is no longer with us. This fascinating story appeared yesterday in the New York Times.
WHY IS RUSSIA MORE INTERESTING THAN CANADA? Probably because they live next door and are really another version of us. But once "Canada Studies" had a boom at American universities. Now a boomlet, at least, is required according to this from the Christian Science Monitor. Ehhhh?
QUACKERY IN HIGH PLACES. In another excerpt from Francis Wheen's new book (How Mumbo Jumbo Conquered the World) we observe a certain fondness for the mystery-mongers at Number 10 Downing Street. The excerpt is from the UK Guardian.
NINE COURSES OF VEGETABLES FOR $135. WHY NOT? But will the sommelier have a proper wine to go with the Rutabaga Gratinee au facon de Boulanger? Big things are happening on the New York restaurant scene. Here, from the Washington Post (does one discern a touch of envy?) is the latest bulletin.
THE DANDIFIED, WODEHOUSEIAN CONSERVATIVE. It may well be that David Skinner of the Weekly Standard has identified a new or previously unclassified but important subspecies of Homo Conservitus Americanensis.
PURE BACH! The Second Orchestral Suite is performed here with crystal clarity by the Berlin Baroque Soloists.
Monday, February 16, 2004
THE PAKISTAN NUCLEAR BAZAAR...involved others in their nuclear establishment and they were discovered to be proliferators even before the spotlight singled out their colleague A.Q. Khan. This detailed and highly revelatory story appeared in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists almost a year ago!! Did it also cue our own intelligence establishment or did they leak the information?
WHAT IS TO BE LEARNED FROM DAVID KAY? A good deal more than the simple reportorial fact that his group found no WMDs in Iraq. So says Helle Dale in this thoughtful essay from the Heritage Foundation.
BUSH NEEDS INTRA-PARTY OPPOSITION ON THIS ONE. Namely, his "immigration reform" plan---but apparently he's not going to get any according to this obviously well-informed, inside-dope story from the Washington Times.
THE FELONS FLOOD IN...to the United States and--now that both parties endorse "liberal" immigration reform--we may be headed toward a crime-induced disaster. This view of the gathering crisis is from Heather MacDonald, a fairly frequent guest on our program and the author of many studies on urban disorder and the hampered police. This article appears in the current issue of City Journal.
THE MILITARY CAREER OF JOHN KERRY...as reported in Douglas Brinkley's new book and as reinterpreted by Andrew Ferguson in the Weekly Standard and on the History News Network. We feel rather involved in this one: both Brinkley and Ferguson have appeared on our radio program--and in the days of the anti-Vietnam War protest we appeared as speaker at a meeting that was also addressed by a young veteran from Boston who had really big hair.
THE ONE THING WE DO THAT THEY (THE OTHER APES) CAN'T. It's speech...and pace the signing chimps and gorillas of the psych labs. Now MRI technology is beginning to reveal the neurological basis of our linguistic emminence. This report on some very important recent research is from the UK Guardian.
HOW DID THIS REVIEWER MANAGE TO IGNORE PAT BUCHANAN? Gabriel Schoenfeld's new book diagnoses anti-Semitism as once again epidemic--in the Western world among "liberals" as well as among Muslims. The reviewer, Arnold Beichman of the Hoover Institution, thinks the diagnosis correct and finds no easy solace.
AND WITH SCHOENFELD'S BOOK IN MIND...do check out this story from France as reported last week in the International Herald Tribune.
KATHY BOUDIN IS OUT OF PRISON BUT NOT OUT OF MIND. The mystery of how advantaged college students became practitioners of "revolutionary" violence persists. (Boudin helped kill a few people while her friends Dohrn and Ayers merely bombed Congress without fatalities.) Susan Braudy addresses that question in her recent book about Boudin and Kay Hymowitz gets her valuable more-than-two cents in by way of this review of the book in the current issue of Commentary.
SLOPPINESS OF MIND IN HIGH PLACES. There's a lot of that around these days says Francis Wheen in a new book just published in England. This excerpt from the book focuses on the gurus who serve the mighty--or, more accurately, those among the mighty who, in confusion, anxiety or mere cognitive incompetence, turn to the gurus.
FROM THE RUNNER-UP IN THE BAD WRITING CONTEST. Homi Bhabha finished second on that famous award list a few years ago. Now, as he observes the coming collapse of his brand of Marxoid literary postmodernism, he attempts to rally the troops back at Critical Inquiry, the screed for the pomo left published at the University of Chicago, where he labored until Hahvahd called.
MULTIPLE PIANOS IN CONCERTI BY BACH, MOZART AND MENDELSSOHN. Another great concert from the Argerich Festival in Lugano, Switzerland. The Bach four-piano work is, as they said in Leipzig, "unbezeichnet."