Friday, May 14, 2004
ABU GHRAIB AND WACO. Krauthammer draws an interesting comparison, in today's Washington Post column, between Rumsfeld's and Reno's versions of "responsibility" and goes on to a balancing commentary on the new panic that has seized some of the war's supporters.
AS THE SHERIFF SAID TO COOLHAND LUKE...what we have here is a failure to communicate. If the routing of intelligence data is not significantly improved soon we are, says this FBI veteran in today's New York Times, open for more 9/11s or worse.
THE NEW TERRORISM...stands at "the crossroads of radicalism and technology" in the view of Matthew Morgan, an Army intelligence officer. This recent article, which appeared recently in Parameters, the quarterly of the Army War College, is as sharp an analysis as we have found of the shape and persisting threat of "postmodern" terrorism.
SUDAN AND THE SWORD OF ISLAM. How many have already been murdered by the military hordes let loose by the government? Clearly UN and US efforts to stop the genocide are not sufficient. Is this an opportunity for the Arab League or the Saudi regime to remond their colleagues in Khartoum that Islam is "a religion of peace?"
THE GODEL REVOLUTION. What do you know about the Incompleteness Theorem? It has consequences in all directions of intellectual life--and provides a fair excuse for your having not rally mastered calculus in high school. This brief essay from Science magazine painlessly introduces "one of the most influential thinkers of the twentieth century."
YOU THINK THE EXTINCTION OF THE DINOSAURS WAS SOMETHING? Some 200 million years earlier, about nine tenths of all life forms were wiped out by an asteroid that slammed into Earth off the coast of Australia. The New Zealand Herald is entitled to some pride of place on this one!
THE COLLAPSE OF THE CORE CURRICULUM...is now virtually universal across the range of American universities. This note in today's Wall Street Journal highlights the "smorgasbordification" of the curriculum at Cornell and Hahvahhd. Much the same is happening--though at a somewhat slower pace--at the proprietor's home university. Ultimately, all roads may lead to St. John's College.
A GREAT LITERARY (AND CULTURAL) CRITIC...well worth a close reading if you want to comprehend the true meaning of the "moral vision" in the arts and ineducation. Who? Matthew Arnold, for a certainty--and for his certainties--who is excellently limned in this appreciation by S.N. Radhika Lakshmi.
THE "POSTMODERN" APPROACH TO "GENDER" AND SEXUALITY...is not merely mistaken; it is dishonest in its scholarship! So proclaims the author of this uncompromisingly--and properly--fierce article from Butterflies and Wheels.
LEGAL FRAUD IN "HIGHER" EDUCATION. Getting a PhD in clinical psycholgy usually takes about four years--unless you shell out a few bucks to a diploma mill and hang up your shingle. Play it right and you may wind up a "media psychologist." This well-told tale of a recent cautionary instance is from the Smoking Gun site. So how will Fox TV respond?
CAN A GREAT BEAUTY BE A DULL PERSON? Of course! But apparently in France that is unforgiveable. Thus, the big flap over the humdrum diaries of Catherine Deneuve! Cette critique (from the UK Guardian) nous amuse.
SING MUSE, THE WRATH OF ACHILLES, PELEUS' SON...as played by Brad Pitt? That could be enough to send Agamemnon back to cowering under his shroud. But, then again, cinema is THE modern art...so here's David Denby's New Yorker review of "Troy," i.e. The Iliad.
WHAT DO JOHNNIE RAY, AL JOLSON, VAUGHN MONROE AND THE MILLS BROTHERS HAVE IN COMMON? They are all heard on this evocative and pleasing collection of music from the fifties.
Thursday, May 13, 2004
Tonight on Extension 720, Milt chats with Joe Califano, former secretary of Health, Education and Welfare and author of Inside: A Public and Private Life. More information on this and other programs is available at our monthly program guide. You can listen to the program from 9 to 11 p.m. central time.
Wednesday, May 12, 2004
Special notice to our readers: As you can see, we have changed the format and have now added a "comment" feature. All thoughtful or spontaneously far-seeing observations are welcome and may, on occasion, elicit proprietary response--and, of course, response from other viewers. Enjoy!
H0W TO ANSWER ZARQAWI'S MESSAGE. Of the many commentaries today on the murder of Nick Berg, this one, by the editor of Human Events, seems to us to say what is neccessary most simply and most directly.
ANOTHER WAY OF TORTURING THE IRAQIS...says Richard Brookhiser in yesterday's New York Observer, is to rob them through the oil-for-food program. In this case, however, the culprits were some leading figures in the UN bureaucracy.
SETTING FRIEDMAN OF THE TIMES STRAIGHT. He has called for the immediate resignation or dismissal of Don Rumsfeld. But he forgets or ignores, says Arnold Kling at Tech Central Station, all that has gone right on Rumsfeld's watch. And never having to meet a payroll (or a policy deadline rather than a mere journalistic one) may have foreshortened TF's perspective.
SO WHAT DO THE PRESIDENTIAL POLLS TELL US? The director of the Pew Center (and they, of course, do some of the polling) says that the message is "it's too soon to say." Hhrumpfff! All the same, he's right about the focus being on the incumbent rather than the (putative) challenger. Actually, this brief op-ed from today's New York Times is worth your attention. And we would be delighted to have your further thoughts on what, if anything, the polls are revealing.
BUT HOW CAN BUSH AND KERRY RUN AGAINST ONE ANOTHER WHEN THEY ARE BOTH BONESMEN??? For old Yale hands (like the present proprietor) that is not a totally silly question. Nor is it trivial to ask: What really happens inside that mausoleum in the middle of the campus?. This article appeared on the CBS site last year and continues to stir slightly paranoid thoughts about the "secret elite" who really--pace, Richard Condon--run everything.
DAN PIPES MAY BE CASSANDRA...but Cassandra was right about the coming fall of her civilization. This scary look at the Islamicised Europe-to-come appeared yesterday in the New York Sun.
WHAT WAS THE ORIGINAL LANGUAGE? Or is it nonsense to think that all 6000 extant languages descend from one source? The question arose as we prepared for last Monday's program on linguistics...and, googling around, we found this intruiging article printed in the New York Times some four years ago.
THE FRANKEN FLOP. We stopped listening to Air America when they lost their Chicago outlet. Apparently they are still doing their thing but they do not amuse (in fact they seem to disgust) the former executive editor of the New York Daily News. Here's why.
ONE NOBEL LAUREATE (LITERATURE) EXAMINES THE EARLY WORK OF ANOTHER. This illuminating essay by J.M. Coetzee, on the early novels of Saul Bellow, has just appeared in the New York Review of Books. Not only did both the author and his subject receive the Nobel Prize--they have both served as members of the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago.
IN A TIME OF EARLY SORROW AND DEATH...ponder for a while the great tragic heroes. William Hazlitt does that in this great essay on Hamlet whom he takes to be "the most amiable of misanthropes."
WHY NOT DOO WOP? It was a charming turn in popular music and still weaves an illusory innocence for the listener. The Flamingos and The Chantels, as heard in this collection, virtually define the genre.
Tuesday, May 11, 2004
THE UNBEARABLE STORY ON NICK BERG'S BEHEADING. With enemies like this, we do need real friends...and perhaps the hierarchs of Old Europe will begin to recognize that our enemy is also the enemy in their midst.
THE WISE STOIC OF WASHINGTON...is George Will. Tempered by his long exposure to the radical imperfectibility of persons and their institutions, he has come to see that in the undertakings of powerful nations, Murphy's Law always applies. Thus, as he reflects on Iraq in today's column, the present moral (and PR!) disaster.
DOES SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGICAL RESEARCH EXPLAIN ABU GHRAIB? This story carried by VOA asserts that it does. As a long-time professor of social psychology (who was on the scene at Yale when Milgram did his famous obedience studies) the proprietor has some doubts but thinks the putative parallel is worth much further thought.
TO SEE OURSELVES AS OTHERS SEE US. The UK Economist is tracking the presidential race over here--and this is the first of their series on the "swing states." As usual, they seem to see the US not through a glass darkly.
THE ZOGBY PREDICTION...was that Kerry has it unless he blunders badly. That's going into "deep extrapolation" on "slender numbers" we thought--and here's a political operator who agrees with us and provides a lucid analysis of where the American electorate is and isn't as the presidential race proceeds.
GUESS WHO'S TERRORIZING SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA! Tim Priest, a retired detective, gives us "the facts, ma'am" in this gripping and dismaying article from Quadrant, one of the major "intellectual journals" of the country.
WHEN, IF EVER, WILL MACHINES BEGIN TO THINK? Or, are there some AI entities now actually ratiocinating among us? An updated version of the classic book, Machines Who Think, addresses the question and is reviewed here in Scientific American.
WHAT HAS GONE WRONG IN FAMILY MEDICINE? The answer has everything to do with the "fragmenting of medical care" and the required solution is the restoration of the family doctor. This well-informed and wisely-argued analysis by a senior physician has just appeared in the journal of the Hoover Institution.
HE'S NOT REALLY THE FATHER OF AMERICAN CONSERVATISM...but, all the same, Bill Buckley was "present at the creation" and his evaluation of some of the intellectual fathers of the movement was worth the price of admission when he delivered these remarks at the annual meeting of the Philadelphia Society.
THE DELUSION THAT WON'T DIE...is that the Soviet Union was, really, a pretty good try for social justice and human improvement. Yes, Virginia, there are American academics who still flounder in that delusional swamp. Harvey Klehr did a fine book about them recently (and discussed it with us on our program). This appreciative review of that book has recently appeared in Reason magazine.
PNIN, NABAKOV AND LODGE. This finely-wrought appreciation of Vladimir Nabakov's writings--and, especially, of his somewhat befuddled emigre-professor, Pnin--has just appeared in the UK Guardian. That it is put before us by the perpetrator of the greatest "academic novels" of recent years (Trading Places and Small World) commends this fine encomium all the more.
DO YOU REMEMBER THE BAD WRITING CONTEST? Why haven't they done one since 1998? That was the year that Judith Butler and Homi Bhabha won first and second prizes respectively for these perfected plunges into neologistic obscurity.
BRAHMS AT THE PIANO. Beethoven launches romanticism; Brahms codifies it. So said a writer whose identity we have forgotten. But the thought does come to mind as we listen to this fine performance of Brahms' First Piano Concerto.
Monday, May 10, 2004
THE SOURCES OF THE ABU GHRAIB SCANDAL. The Washington Post is running an "in depth" series. The reporting is sharp and seems "well sourced." Here is the first installment as it ran in yesterday's paper.
AND HERE'S TODAY'S INSTALLMENT...with some highly informative links that should be checked out. Of particular interest: the story on the original Red Cross report.
WHEN THE GUYS AT THE WEEKLY STANDARD SEE PROBLEMS--THERE ARE PROBLEMS!! This lead piece, by Kagan and Kristol, about the prospects in Iraq is a harbinger of the now-surfacing, openly critical stance of the out-of-government neocon establishment. And, in our view, it happens to be basically correct.
WHAT TO DO AT GROUND ZERO? It is once again and more-or-less up in the air! Judicial and financial issues have obscured the still deeper esthetic issues--though these are intelligently restored in this op-ed that appeared last week in the Wall Street Journal.
IN THE KERRY CAMP...there should be some apprehension about the Kennedy embrace. So says John Fund in another of his miasma-piercing notes on the campaign trail.
JUST IN FROM CHOLULA, MEXICO. Jimmy Breslin introduces a "new (if illegal) American" in this column from yesterday's Newsday.
ON THE CRITICAL SIDE OF THE GAY-MARRIAGE DEBATE (INTELLECTUAL SUBDIVISION)...no voice is stronger than that of Stanley Kurtz. Here is his latest contribution to the debate he has stirred in the pages of the National Review.
DOES THE MAINTENANCE OF THE NATION REQUIRE RELIGIOUS RENEWAL? That question underlies this rather startling review/essay from the current issue of The Public Interest.
AND SPEAKING OF RELIGION IN AMERICA...this article from the Columbia Journalism Review raises (and partially answers) the question of why American journalism is so tin-eared when on the religion beat. The jumping off place for the inquiry is what the press said and failed to say about the Gibson version of the crucifixion.
IS THIS THE END OF THE CULTURE-WARS? Some have suggested that to be the "deeper meaning" of the latest "big change" at the New York Times. We strongly doubt it. The culture is as troubled as ever but whether the "Arts and Ideas" section of the Times will be missed is--as this informative account from the New York Observer almost suggests--a matter of more moment than many acknowledge.
ASK NOT FOR WHOM THE SCALE BREAKS...it breaks for thee, or else for the person next door and/or in the next country. Adiposity excess is, according to this story from the My Way site, apparently spreading in (rim shot) both senses.
ANOTHER DEFENDER OF THE SHROUD BITES THE DUST. The crucial question in the continuing debate over the Shroud of Turin is: How old is the cloth itself? A "researcher" who supported the Shroud's authenticity now appears to have been a pure charlatan. Here's the fascinating article--from the current issue of The Skeptical Inquirer--that provides a full account of the bizarre story of Dimitri A. Kouznetsov.
THE GREAT WILLIE! We confess a great preference for this fine American musician. This generous supply of his recordings includes Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain, Georgia on my Mind and Help Me Make It Through the Night.