Friday, April 02, 2004
Extension 720 takes a seat on the bench tonight as the Cubs play an 8:05 ball game. More information on future programs can be found here.
WHAT DOES THE HORROR AT FALLUJAH REALLY TEACH? In invading Iraq, says Christopher Hitchens in this op-ed from today's Wall Street Journal, we approached the "heart of darkness." Fallujah serves as a reminder of what the Saddam regime represented and of its lingering and contaminating influence.
THE TALIBAN ARE WAITING IN THE WINGS...says a security expert just back from two months in Afghanistan. The report is from a left-wing, but information-oriented, foreign policy study group.
THE MYSTERY OF THE YAWNING BOY...standing behind the president...and then there's CNN, Letterman, the White House, etc. It is all explained--sort of--in this article from today's Washington Post.
THE MANAGER OF THE CLARKE INDUSTRY...is TV documentarian and literary agent Len Sherman who--in this interview article fom the New York Observer--reveals a good deal about how the property is being managed.
IS "INTELLIGENT DESIGN" A TRUE CHALLENGE TO EVOLUTIONARY THEORY? This article--which appeared last year in the Skeptical Inquirer--strikes us as pretty close to a definitive answer to the question with which "scientific creationists" have been bugging practitioners of "evolutionary biology."
PROFESSING ANTI-ISRAELISM ON THE AMERICAN CAMPUS. There has been enough of that sort of thing going on at the proprietor's home university to spark strong student protest. The nationwide phenomenon of activist "anti-Zionist" academics (including some Jewish ones!) is reviewed here by the editor of New York's Jewish Week.
A HARVARD ACADEMIC ARGUES FOR THE LEGITIMACY OF PRO-PALESTINIAN SCHOLARSHIP. This interesting bit of advocacy is founded upon criticism of the critics--among them Stanley Kurtz of the Hoover Institution. The article is from the latest issue of the London Review of Books.
SO WHAT IS THAT LAST ITEM ALL ABOUT, REALLY? Let's tune in on Stanley Kurtz who lays out the history--and present status--of the struggle over U.S. funding of "area studies" in this article from yesterday's National Review.
NEW YORK CITY IN THE BEGINNING. It was once a "sprawling, brawling lawless mess on the brink of extinction." A history of those days and the early times that followed has just appeared and is reviewed enthusiastically here--in the UK Guardian--by Simon Callow.
HOLLYWOOD HATES BUSH! That seems to be the basic message of this--by no means disapproving--story in today's New York Times. And one notes with interest that the eminent policy analyst, Whoopi Goldberg, faults Mr. Bush for being a (gasp) Christian.
AN ALMOST CLUELESS REVIEW OF GIBSON'S FILM. The Passion having now reached Singapore, they assigned the review to some guy who obviously went to (or back to?) the New Testament to bone up on the story. Apart from his first grade retelling, the matters of greatest interest are his ambivalence about the gore and his confusion about the Jews and his desperate--and failed--search to find something to say that has not already been said.
MAKING THE WORLD SAFE FOR CLASSICAL MUSIC. Is it really in decline? If so, how can it be effectively resuscitated? Gregg Sandow, a significant contemporary composer argues--predictably but rather persuasively--that more contemporary "serious" music is required on concert programs.
HOW'S THIS FOR CONTEMPORARY COMPOSITION? Shostakovich wrote his Piano Concerto #1 in 1933. But it does sound like yesterday--except better! Here is a fine performance by Anne-Marie McDermott (Piano)and Jeffrey Segal (Trumpet) with the Australian Chamber Orchestra.
Thursday, April 01, 2004
WHAT KIND OF PEOPLE DO THEY THINK WE ARE? That's what Churchill asked as Hitler predicted that England would collapse under the assault of the Luftwaffe. The same might now be asked of Reuters, the British-based news service, for this story about American reaction to the Falluja monstrosity.
PEGGY NOONAN CALLS FOR VENGEANCE...and suggests that it would have a corrective as well as cathartic effect. The column is from today's Wall Street Journal.
KILLING THE PROSPECT OF PEACE. The assasination of Yitzhak Rabin was a blow from which the middle-east has not yet recovered. Two scholarly works on that malign event have been recently published and are here subjected to equally scholarly, critical review at the H-Net site.
IS THE FORMER GOVERNOR OF COLORADO A NAZI? Some folks at the Sierra Club are clubbing him with that appelation. The disheartening details are reviewed (with appropriate indignation) by John Leo in his most recent column.
OTHER HABITABLE WORLDS? Some British astronomers--projecting from available data--conclude that there may be hundreds of habitable planets in our galaxy. Here's the story from Universe Today. As e.e. cummings said: There's a great universe out there. Let's go!
CLEAN FOR (MEAN?) GENE. There's a new book about about Eugene McCarthy and Louis Menand, at the New Yorker, uses that as a jumping off place for a fine historical essay about an earlier season in American politics.
A JOURNALISM DEAN EVALUATES THE MEMOIR OF A LYING JOURNALIST. Yes, it is Jayson Blair again, this time evaluated with some charity mixed with appropriate severity by a newspaper veteran in the Canadian Globe and Mail.
JUSTICE FOR B.F. SKINNER. A great--and now somewhat maligned--psychologist was born a hundred years ago. He was not the ulimate behaiorist that some of his followers and detractors represent him to have been--but he had some fascinating, influential ideas and he presented them with dramatic clarity. Here he is properly memorialized in an article from the Skeptical Inquirer.
THIS GREAT COUNTERFACTUAL ESSAY...from the book, What Might Have Been, asks how a strong and public protest from Pius XII might have altered the history that, without such protest, produced the Holocaust.
AMERICAN ARCHETYPES, THEN AND NOW. Styles of national humor disclose types (or stereotypes) of national character. Three types that struck a perceptive author back in 1931 were the Yankee, the Backwoodsman and the Minstrel. Now the standouts, suggests the author of this Slate article, are The Star, The Gangster and the Born-Again Sinner.
LUX ET VERITAS...that is, light and truth are the words inscribed on the great seal of Yale University (where, incidentally, the proprietor professed assistantly a long time ago). Here's some of the special truth available there these days. Enough, in fact, to win them first place in the Annual Campus Outrage Awards. Bringing up the field: UC Santa Barbara, UC Berekely, Northwestern, Duke and Georgetown. For the tragicomic detail read on.
AND SPEAKING OF POLITICAL CORRECTNESS...it is still abundantly around, even in universites that don't get Polly Awards. This useful primer for the unsuspecting undergraduate will help him/her to spot the real thing.
MORE FINE CHAMBER MUSIC FROM THE ARGERICH FESTIVAL. These live recordings from Lugano are outstanding for their performance quality. We were particularly pleased with the Brahms Piano Quartet.
Wednesday, March 31, 2004
THE FALLUJAH HORROR. This vividly ghastly story from an AP correspondent on the scene suggests a reenactment of what happened in Mogadishu eleven years ago. The aching question is: How--if it is at all possible--can the "hearts and minds" of the Saddam loyalists be won?
FROM A LABOUR THINK TANK. The Foreign Policy Centre in London is a small (and unofficial) "brains trust" for the Labour Party. Thus, when it's director suggests that Britain may follow the lead of the Spaniards in abandoning the Iraq coalition, there is some reason for concern. Here is the tell-tale essay from their website.
POLL ADVANTAGE TODAY, DISADVANTAGE TOMORROW. That seems to be the story if one takes the Gallup findings seriously. Kerry was leading Bush by eight percentage points three weeks ago. Now he is behind by four points. Apparently the Clarke testimony did not do any lasting damage. Or else it was outweighed by the strong Bush ads that began popping up on screens around the nation. Here's the latest poll report.
DICK MORRIS CHECKS IN ON THE POLLS AND THE KERRY DECLINE...and offers some free advice to both sides in his column today in the New York Post. He may often seem either fanciful or obsessed (with something other than toes) but remember--he really was the engineer of Clinton's second victory.
ISRAEL'S NATIONAL SECURITY AFTER THE FALL OF SADDAM. This well-informed, "realpolitik essay" on the problems and opportunities now facing the military planners in Israel has just been published. It is the work of the Saban Center, the group of middle eastern policy analysts at the Brookings Institution. Though on the lengthy side, it is well worth a printing out and a close reading.
DEAR OSAMA; DEAR MAHATMA. A British political philosopher of Hindu background (and now a "Labour Peer") imagines a correspondence between the two. This post-Platonic dialogue, published in Prospect magazine, is intended as a clarification of how Al Qaeda has "discredited a great religion."
THE DECLINE OF MANNERS...AT THE SUPERMARKET. A curious bit of observational research has just appeared in Scientific American. Read it--and then mind your manners the next time you're checking out your purchases.
THE DECLINE OF A MASTER? According to James Wood at The New Republic, John Le Carre has lost it...or lost a good deal of it, at least. Is the problem that they took away the Cold War as his scene of operations--or does its absence reveal the limits of the thriller genre? Or neither of the above? At any rate, this fine critical essay does evoke memories of George Smiley and the pleasure of his company.
THE FRANKEN NETWORK IS LAUNCHED...with jokes about a cabinet member patronizing a dominatrix! More detail is available here from the New York Times and even they seem a bit skeptical about the prospects for these folks "making great radio."
A GREAT MODERN JAZZ CONCERT...led by Herb Pomeroy on trumpet and recorded live at Birdland. The Gershwin Melody from Porgy and Bess is outstanding.
Tuesday, March 30, 2004
THE FORGOTTEN PRESENCE AT THE SEPTEMBER 11TH HEARINGS...is Osama Bin Laden and it would be well, says John O'Sullivan in this fine corrective piece from the Chicago Sun-Times, if some of the commissioners (and most of the press) tried to remember that.
HOIST UP THE LIBERAL RADIO FLAG...but will they salute? Since we do a talk show (or--our favored appelation--a "discussion program") this commentary by another talk-show host about the new Al Franken network to come was (is) inevitably of high interest. It appeared today in the Boston Globe.
THE APOCALYPSE ACCORDING TO KHALID SHAIKH MOHAMMED. He has been talking in captivity and (if it isn't a put-on designed to confuse) he has revealed what Al Qaida was going to do to match (or top) the assault on the World Trade Center. Chilling stuff--and it should remind all political parties (including whatever Ralph Nader calls himself) that we are at war.
WAS THAT THE LAST GENOCIDE? The Rwandan horror began ten years ago and this article from The Economist reminds us of the precipitating history and of the incidents that sparked the decline into the abyss.
OFFSHORE OUTSOURCING IS GOOD FOR THOSE LEFT ONSHORE. So asserts Dan Drezner (colleague from the University of Chicago and occasional guest on our program) in this valuable--and delightfully readable--essay that has just appeared in Foreign Affairs.
EAST MEETS WEST, GROWS FATTER, DIES YOUNGER. This story from today's New York Times reports the ballooning-out of younger Okinawans. The research behind the story will probably become a standard item in all future popular treatises on weight reduction--as it will in many future jeremiads about western "civilization" itself.
THEN WOULD THESE BE LABORATORY CREATIONISTS? Ron Kotulak of the Chicago Tribune is a far-seeing science reporter--and in this article he persuades himself that ultimate nano-technology will produce something that will deserve to be called "life." We mean to ask him much more about this exciting, confounding and possibly faith-shattering (will the Book of Genesis require a rewrite?) prospect the next time he appears on our program.
THE LOWERING OF HIGHER EDUCATION. Shakespeare isn't all that's missing--but he certainly is noteworthy in his absence from the core curriculum at an ever-increasing number of American universities. As are also Plato, Socrates, almost all history and almost all classic literature. Malcolm Kline of Accuracy in Academia reviews some of the available findings from recent surveys of what they are (and are not) teaching these days.
AND SPEAKING OF THE TEACHING OF HISTORY...this article, contributed to Dissent by a leading leftist historian, has just been republished in the right-wing, Front Page magazine. David Horowitz's introduction explains why and sets the stage for a proper critique of the much-rewarded Howard Zinn.
AND SPEAKING OF SHAKESPEARE...this article from the current issue of First Things is startling in its insights and conclusions about what the Bard was actually saying about Jews, Blacks and the received assumptions of his time.
A ROCKER KNOCKS THE RAPPERS...and condemns "hip-hop" for the murderous and suicidal vileness it peddles to the black kids (and lots of others) in the United Kingdom. And then there are the rapaciously greedy purveyors. The article appeared a few days ago in the British magazine, Prospect.
DJANGO ET SES AMIS. The Quintet of the Hot Club of France was a superb European group featuring the great gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt. They played through the thirties and up until France's defeat in World War II. In this generous sampling of their pereformances some outstanding items are: Ain't Misbehavin', I'm Confessin', Lady Be Good, Solitude...and everything else!
Monday, March 29, 2004
MARK STEYN CLEARS BUSH OF CLARKE'S CHARGES...and does it with his usual flourish of the cape followed by a finalizing rapier thrust. It happened yesterday in the U.K. Telegraph.
SOME CALCULABLE CONSEQUENCES OF THE SPANISH PULLOUT. A former marine and present defense analyst asks what consequences will follow from the decision by the new Spanish government to pull out of Iraq--and he finds that they are bad, very bad for Spain and the rest of Europe.
COMMERCE FOLLOWS THE FLAG...and the bids are being readied by potential contractors who aspire to get in on the "rebuild Iraq" action. So...the story isn't all bombs and resistance, as witness this story from the Bahrain Daily News about a forthcoming event at the Bahrain International Exhibition Center.
THE DISCORDANCE BETWEEN RELATIVITY THEORY AND QUANTUM MECHANICS...may be resolved (or one may vanquish the other) fairly soon. Here's how according to the people at NASA. If you don't quite understand all of this, catch our program tomorrow night when we chat with Brian Greene, co-director of Columbia University's Institute for Strings, Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics.
"NO BUCKS WITHOUT BUCK ROGERS"...is the slogan of those at NASA who need to build public (and congressional) support for space exploration. Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg argues, in this essay from the current New York Review of Books, that it can all be done better without humans on board...and that there are great discoveries in the offing.
THE DECLINE OF MARRIAGE AND BIRTH RATE...in Australia!! The same trend toward non-familial life that has been observed in most west European countries is now clearly visible in Australia. A major study documenting this demographic disaster has just been reported from Monash University and is summarized in this story from the Sydney Morning Herald.
WEBSITES ARE NOT ALWAYS WHAT THEY SEEM! In fact misinformation, veiled political or commercial purpose and sheer disingenuousness are well represented on the internet. So caveat websurfer...and get some valuable guidance from this feature from Searcher. Though it is three years old it is still completely pertinent.
THE SWEET LITERARY SCIENCE OF A.J. LIEBLING. The centenary of the master has come and the current editor of the New Yorker, where most of Liebling's great stuff was first published, has just provided this fine account of the man, his vivid art and his rich times.
WAS THERE EVER A STRANGER WORLD CHAMPION? Of course, the sport was chess which does attract a fair number of brilliant (and obsessive) eccentrics. But Bobby Fischer was indeed "something else again." As was the bizarre match with Spassky in Iceland. It has all been told again and with much new material by John Eidinow (a former guest on our program) in the book that is here reviewed by Gabriel Schoenfeld (a very recent guest on our program).
MOURNING A DEPARTED "GREAT RESTAURANT"...is a virtual genre set-piece in modern journalism. But the recent demise of La Cote Basque in New York left many wondering where their next Ruyonne de Moustique a la mode de Berenger might possibly come from. The restaurant writer for the New York Times does this sort of thing well--particularly on the Truman Capote connection and with a recipe to round it all out.
THE ULTIMATE TAX CONSULTANT...is or isn't Dave Barry. The most risibly beguiling he certainly is--and here are his random thoughts on the approach of death and taxes day as published last weekend in his home paper, the Miami Herald.
PICTURES FROM THE CRIMEA BY MUSSORGSKY. Yes, you read that correctly. These are not the better known Pictures From an Exhibition but are orchestrations by Walter Goehr from piano sketches by the Russian master. Beautifully moody and then sprightly as performed by the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Geoffrey Simon.