Friday, April 30, 2004
INSIDE ARAFAT'S COMPOUND (AND HIS MIND?). David Rieff, one of the best independent journalists who occasionally write for the New York Times, has been poking around Ramallah and collecting opinions and facts about the semi-imprisoned "father" of the Palestinians. The result is an article rich with telling detail and a portrait of a "lion" for whom winter will not end.
HOW MIGHT TERRORISTS UNDERTAKE NUCLEAR ATTACK? Let us count the ways, say these worried specialists in an article that has recently appeared in Foreign Affairs. Knowing what to worry about does, of course, give some advantage in heading off the worst possibilities...but, still...this doesn't make for reassuring reading.
WHAT COST FOR GALLIC MULTICULTURALISM? The French government seems, finally, to be catching on to the fact that their polity, culture and future are threatened by radical Islam. The reactive measures they are taking, as reported in this story from today's New York Times, may--but probably will not--be more effective than the head-scarf ban.
DANIEL GOLDHAGEN IS NEITHER IMPRESSED NOR PLEASED...with the results of the just-concluded European conference on anti-semitism. In this article from today's Los Angeles Times he recounts what, in his rather strenuous view, has been left unsaid and undone.
AND SPEAKING OF ANTI-SEMITISM...and of Israel, the Palestinians, the UN and the still flickering hope for a "road map" sort of settlement, here's what Krauthammer says today in the Washington Post.
THE REDOUBTABLE DAN PIPES GETS A MIXED REVIEW...from the Nation. Actually, considering who and what they are it is a bit of a surprise that they take him seriously at all. Perhaps the scope and menace of Wahhabist terrorism has actually caught their attention.
THE BERNARD LEWIS INTERVIEW. This interview, just released by The Atlantic magazine, is a fine representation, in brief, of the wise--and valuably nuanced--view of Islam developed by its foremost western student.
WHERE IT (THE UNIVERSE) WILL END, WE KNOW...but we really don't know how, when (or why) it began! Multiverse models and super-string theory have deeply shaken up the established cosmology. This wonderfully lucid (considering the subject!) article from Scientific American will fill you in.
THE ISLAMIC JESUS...is found not only in the Koran but in tales spun for a thousand years after Mohammed's encounter with the Angel Gabriel. A scholarly work on the Muslim figure of Jesus here receives an admiring scholartly review at the H-Net site.
WILL THERE BE A DARK FILLY IN THE WINGS...at the Democratic convention? Or, to put it as directly as Cal Thomas does in this column from today's Washington Times, is there a game afoot to get the nomination for Hillary Clinton?
THE "STIFLING OF OPINIONS" ON THE AMERICAN CAMPUS. This strong and, we think, quite correct critique of the politicization of university life and teaching was delivered recently to the North American Philosophy of Education Society.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORED AUTHOR...that most others have barely heard of? That seems to be the case with Katherine Powers of the Boston Globe...and today she has managed to get me to order the latest by Ben Macintyre from Barnes and Noble.
SO HOW ARE THE FRANKEN-LIBS DOING ON THE AIR? This evaluation is from a broadcaster who runs the About Guide section on radio. Incidentally, Air America has just gone off the air in Chicago, but promises to "return soon" on another station.
THE LADIES WHO LUNCH WON'T BE READING THIS BOOK...if those who review and promote have their way. The former editor of the Ladies Home Journal, according to this from Front Page, is not getting much "ink" from her one-time spin-sister colleagues who "sell unhappiness and liberalism to the women of America."
MORE FROM THE ARGERICH FESTIVAL. This live concert from Lugano features Schumann, Brahms and Franck plus a stunning cello sonata by Prokofiev.
Thursday, April 29, 2004
Tonight on Extension 720, Milt talks with Simon Sebag Montefiore, noted journalist and expert on the former Soviet Empire, about his new book Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar. More information on this and other program is available at our monthly program guide. You can listen to the program from 9 to 11 p.m. central time.
Wednesday, April 28, 2004
AL QAEDA AS IDEOLOGY. What do they really believe? What do they intend to achieve? How does the Islamic mass relate to their ideology and their operations? These questions are addressed with great clarity by a well-qualified observer in this essay from the new issue of Foreign Policy.
A TRULY DISGUSTING AND INFURIATING STORY. That Muammar the killer, the trainer of terrorists and bomber of commercial flights should be enthusiastically received as he "charms Europe" is simply unaccountable...except that his hosts smell the possibility of big profits. Of some extra interest in this article from today's Sydney Morning Herald is the evidence that he is still some sort of "ambulatory psychotic."
FROM THE KERRY CAMP...a doubtful appraisal of their plans, their personnel and their main man. Richard Wolfe of Newsweek is a solid reporter and is clearly not a journalistic neo-con. Thus his appraisal might be taken as an "objective" one, at least as much so as is possible in these days of "tilted journalistic objectivity."
ASK NOT WHO RADICALIZED ISLAM: WE DID! "We" means the United States...and a large group of French intellectuals are now developing and publicising this devasting insight. For a useful rundown on this latest chapter in "la folie des francais" do consult this recent article from Front Page.
DIVERSITY, ASSIMILATION, INTELLIGENCE AND THE AMERICAN FUTURE. The work of Brimelow, Huntington and others who have worried publically about uncontrolled immigration, is here "illuminated" by John Derbyshire with reference back to The Bell Curve of Hernstein and Murray. We are not sure that, in this article from the National Review, Derbyshire has got it right--but his argument should be examined.
HITLER AS MESSIAH...and Nazism as a twentieth century "religious" movement. That is one of the main, integrating themes of a "new history" of Nazism that appeared a few years ago and is here reviewed at the H-Net site. Unlike many scholarly reviews at a scholarly location, this one speaks strongly and with admirable directness.
WERE THE RUSKIES REALLY NASTIES? Mona Charen in her new book, Useful Idiots, suggests that many prominent American intellectuals and "activists" were incapable of seeing the obvious about our once formidable antagonist. William Rusher commends her work in this essay from the Claremont Review of Books and offers some further historical insights, vigorously stated and not unpersuasive.
A SILLY BOOK GETS SERIOUS REFUTATION. They are all piling on to protect naive Christians from taking the DaVinci Code seriously. Apart from the various books to that effect that are just now published, this article from a few months ago punctures the "cryptanalytic" pretensions of the novel and the earlier work ("Holy Blood, Holy Grail") on which it was based.
THE GRAD SCHOOL CRISIS. It is real and it has been there for some time. This article from the Village Voice lays out the facts and stirs, in the proprietor, some residual concern over the hard lot and poor prospects that burdened the lives of some of his own graduate students.
CASTING SHAKESPEARE. How to create "buzz" about the actors while trying to do fairly responsible perfrmance of Hamlet, Othello or Henry V. For example, the Oedipal tension between Glenn Close and Mel Gibson as Gertrude and Hamlet. This curious, but insightful, essay is by an unsigned cineaste who contributed to the Poor Yorick Shakespeare Catalogue.
CHUTZPAH DOWN UNDER. That is, Mel Brooks in Australia and discoursing--to a rather dim but enthusiastic interviewer--on the nature of comedy, how not to grow old and the real Max Bialistock.
THE GREAT REQUIEM BY GABRIEL FAURE. This classic, almost modern (1888) work is beautifully performed here by the Trinity College Choir and soloists in a live performance at Hong Kong.
Tuesday, April 27, 2004
IS THIS WHAT THE IRAQ ACTION WAS REALLY ABOUT? WMDs, says Mark Steyn, were not at all the only concern. "Decapitation" and "destabilization" are key terms in the analysis. As ever from Steyn, some interesting angles put forward with colloquial grace.
IF THEY HAD SUCCEEDED IN AMMAN...the outcome would have been mass slaughter far exceeding 9/11. So say the Jordanian officials who have squelched a plot of probable Al Qaida origin. Even allowing for exaggeration by Jordanian counter-intelligence, this purported plot suggests that the terrorism network is, as some "experts" have suggested, leveling its hierarchy and spreading out horizontally.
AND SPEAKING OF ISLAMIC TERRORISM...what exactly do we learn about it from the famous Presidential Daily Brief of August 6, 2001? Basically, says this former CIA operative writing in today's Wall Street Journal, that the CIA knew and reported virtually nothing useful. As Casey Stengel once asked plaintively, "Don't nobody here know how to play this game?"
WAHHABISM TURNS UPON ITS SAUDI SPONSOR. Stephen Schwartz is one of the best "plugged-in" western experts on Islamic terrorist movements and the author of "The Two Faces of Islam." This article from yesterday's Tech Central Station examines how the Wahhabists are now threatening to destroy their sponsors back in the Kingdom.
A TOUR OF THE HORIZON FROM GEORGE SHULTZ. In this speech two months ago the former Secretary of State (and former Dean of the Graduate School of Business at the University of Chicago) examines, we think rather wisely, the burdens, challenges and opportunities posed for the west in the age of terrorism.
WHAT TO DO WHEN YOUR ACE REPORTER TURNS OUT TO BE A LIAR? The guy at the New York Times seems to have set the present style: Resign! But, as Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post points out, it was not ever thus.
FEDER COMMENTS ON RODHAM CLINTON'S COMMMENTS ON THE PRESIDENT'S IQ. This piece, obviously written more in anger than amusement, appreared yesterday in First Things. We could do the Isaiah Berlin gambit about the hedgehog and the fox...but, nevermind.
IN SOUTH AFRICA THE NEW ELITE BEHAVES LIKE MOST OTHER NEW ELITES! That is, they corruptly misuse their power as they "succumb to the temptation of instant gratification and conspicuous consumption." This disturbing report appeared in today's New York Times.
BUT THIS COULD DIMINISH THE FUTURE MEMBERSHIP OF PHI BETA KAPPA! In fact, the proprietor--who is a veteran academic--fully approves of any measures to combat grade inflation. Only 35% A's at Princeton? Will Yale now counter with 30%? Or with the claim that THEIR students are intrinsically brighter and thus, the grading system cannot be changed?
THE NEW OLD VIC. How does a Hollywood actor become the Artistic Director of a theatre at the center of British artistic life? The writer for the UK Telegraph wondered and decided to go and ask. This interesting article is the result.
ARE ACTORS A DISTINCTIVE SPECIES? The thoughts and strong characterizations of William Hazlitt, though put forward almost 175 years ago, seem quite applicable to "the biz" today.
WHEN MARK TWAIN ENCOUNTERED WAGNER...the results were amusing, of course, but also of sociological--if not musicological--import.
REAL CHICAGO JAZZ! Wingy Manone gathered some of his friends together for two historic recording sessions in 1928. Here's the great musical result when Freeman, Krupa and Teschemacher joined in.
Monday, April 26, 2004
ISRAEL INSIDE HAMAS! This very short item from the Jerusalem Post leaves one wanting more, much more, detail but understanding why it isn't available.
NAT AND MIKE SERVING JUSTICE...and properly embarrasing the Times and Senators Schumer and Kennedy. At issue: the career of the much maligned Judge Charles Pickering of Mississippi. Nat Hentoff of the Village Voice remains a valuable national resource.
KOFI...PERHAPS WE HARDLY KNEW YOU! The oil-for-food scandal won't go away but, in fact, looks worse and worse. This article from the new issue of Commentary magazine lays it all out and, properly, raises questions about the Secretary General's possible complicity.
IDEAS HAVE CONSEQUENCES..AND SO DOES ACADEMIC FREEEDOM. Combine the two, fill a Mid-East Studies program with anti-Israeli scholars (funded by Arab nations)---and youv'e got trouble on Morningside Heights (i.e. Columbia University). This latest report from that campus was published today in Front Page magazine.
IN THE EUROPEAN HOUSE OF ISLAM...one hopes that there are many mansions and that few enter the one described in this article from today's New York Times.
HAS MS MAGAZINE REPORTED THIS? Just asking...except for this random query: What does Sharia prescribe as the proper (required?) punishment for wife-beating?
RAP AND THE DEBASEMENT OF BLACK WOMEN...some of whom are outraged, but then, some are not. A recent brouhaha at Spelman College, reported here at My Way News, suggests that the protestors have not completely "got their act together."
SATIRE IN THE WALL STREET JOURNAL? Well, Jonathan Swift it isn't. But a discourse on the possible dysfunctional consequences of same-sex marriage it surely is. From this morning's paper.
PUNCTUATION PUNCTILIOUSLY PRACTICED AND PURSUED. Lynne Truss has done a delightful romp of a book in which she details hundreds of cases of punctuation disenablement. She was with us on our radio program last week--as her reviewer, Edmund Morris, has been on earlier occasions.
CHARLATANS, DUPES AND MERE FOOLS...are punctured in a new Australian book; or so one gathers from this review that appeared last week in The Age of Melbourne. It is rather a jump from the ponderous interpretations of "grand historians" to the necromancy of Deepak Chopra and the light inanities of Oprah--but the book sounds like a worthy addition to the jeremaid shelf.
IF I WERE A RICH MAN. Before Tevye fantasied on the subject, Dr. Samuel Johnson gave close--and, inevitably, moralistic--examination to the question of whether riches tend to corrupt and whether great riches corrupt greatly.