"He instinctively can find the shining greatness of our American culture and does a good job of highlighting it (although he also does have those rare lapses when he writes about hockey, but that is something caused by impurities in the Eastern waters or something)." Erik Keilholtz
Under the patronage of St. Tammany
Mark C. N. Sullivan is an editor at a Massachusetts university. He is married and the father of three children. Email
I don't want to sound self-satisfied, because that's always dangerous and I'm really not anyway (self-satisfied, that is). But I'm beginning to feel sorry for all my friends and former friends who thought I'd gone crazy when I supported the war in Iraq. They must be feeling left out, although I am sure many of them block the news out or make sure it is sufficiently leavened with bad news not to disrupt their world views. After all, we'll all be dead relatively soon in the grand scheme of things and it doesn't matter much what any of us think anyway. But isn't it nice to be on the optimistic side of things, rooting for human freedom?
Noemie Emery in the Weekly Standard on Democrats and the Iraqi elections:
In December, some of the savvier commentators had begun suggesting that Bush's democracy project was showing signs of working, and Martin Gilbert, the biographer of Winston S Churchill, had written that Bush and his main man Tony Blair might stand some day with Churchill and Roosevelt. Among the in crowd--which had been appalled when Ronald Reagan, the amiable dunce, was declared by serious people the liberator of the people of Communist Europe--the idea that history might repeat itself was too much to bear.
The whole thing is almost too awful to think of, and one way of not thinking is to pretend nothing happened, and on this the press and the Democrats have surely done more than their best.
Let's see: The elections succeeded in spite of the one man who caused them, and BECAUSE of the people whose publications and candidates had fought Bush every step of the way. Or, put another way, the elections were a success and a great moral victory; but the ideas that led up to them were the purest examples of bone-headed bungling; and the man who thought them all up was a dunce. #
This is the most powerful question in the world today: Why not here? People in Eastern Europe looked at people in Western Europe and asked, Why not here? People in Ukraine looked at people in Georgia and asked, Why not here? People around the Arab world look at voters in Iraq and ask, Why not here?
Thomas Kuhn famously argued that science advances not gradually but in jolts, through a series of raw and jagged paradigm shifts. Somebody sees a problem differently, and suddenly everybody's vantage point changes.
"Why not here?" is a Kuhnian question, and as you open the newspaper these days, you see it flitting around the world like a thought contagion. Wherever it is asked, people seem to feel that the rules have changed. New possibilities have opened up.
The question is being asked now in Lebanon. Walid Jumblatt made his much circulated observation to David Ignatius of The Washington Post: "It's strange for me to say it, but this process of change has started because of the American invasion of Iraq. I was cynical about Iraq. But when I saw the Iraqi people voting three weeks ago, eight million of them, it was the start of a new Arab world."
* * *
The Washington Post's David Ignatius writes on "Beirut's Berlin Wall":
"Enough!" That's one of the simple slogans you see scrawled on the walls around Rafiq Hariri's grave site here. And it sums up the movement for political change that has suddenly coalesced in Lebanon and is slowly gathering force elsewhere in the Arab world.
* * *
Just four weeks after the Iraqi election of January 30, 2005, it seems increasingly likely that date will turn out to have been a genuine turning point, the Weekly Standard's William Kristol writes:
HISTORY IS BEST VIEWED IN the rear-view mirror. It's hard to grasp the significance of events as they happen. It's even harder to forecast their meaning when they're only scheduled to happen. And once they occur, it's usually the case that possible historical turning points, tipping points, inflection points, or just points of interest turn out in the cold glare of history to have been of merely passing importance.
But sometimes not. Just four weeks after the Iraqi election of January 30, 2005, it seems increasingly likely that that date will turn out to have been a genuine turning point. The fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989, ended an era. September 11, 2001, ended an interregnum. In the new era in which we now live, 1/30/05 could be a key moment--perhaps the key moment so far--in vindicating the Bush Doctrine as the right response to 9/11. And now there is the prospect of further and accelerating progress.
* * *
OxBlog discovers even NYT editorialists writing: Promoting democracy is America's proper vocation, and not just in fair weather.
* * *
Meantime, in Vermont, radical "peace activists" highjack New England Town Meetings to protest the American military efforts that are helping spark democracy in the Middle East.
Rock drew some of his biggest laughs with political jabs aimed at President George W. Bush, the involuntary star of Michael Moore's scathing documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11."
Rock noted that Moore's film, though shut out of the Oscar competition, was breaking box office records at the time Bush was running for reelection.
"Can you imagine applying for a job, and while you're applying for that job there's a movie in every theatre in the country that shows how much you suck in that job?" Rock said. "It would be hard to get hired, wouldn't it?"
They support the troops, of course:
[I]n a reminder that Hollywood remains a quintessentially American institution after all, Rock took a moment at the start of the show to "send some love out to all our troops fighting all over the world for freedom right now."
Oh, the troops are fighting all over the world for freedom -- separate, apparently, from the idiot war-mongering policies of the punch-line chimp president and his neo-con advisors.
Consistency is the hobgoblin of non-celebrity minds.
Friday, February 25, 2005
Academical village idiocy &c
Peggy Noonan chimes in on the Larry Summers show trials at Harvard:
But what the Summers story most illustrates is that American universities now seem like Medieval cloisters. They're like a cloister without the messy God part. Old monks of leftism walk their hallowed halls in hooded robes, chanting to themselves. Young nuns of leftist deconstructionism, pale as orchids, walk along wringing their hands, listening to their gloomy music. They become hysterical at the antichrist of a new idea, the instrusion of the reconsideration of settled matter. Get thee behind me, Summers.
These monks and nuns are the worst of both worlds, frightened and so ferocious, antique and so aggressive. Will they exorcise Summers from their midst? Stay tuned. But cheers to the Ivy League students who refuse to be impressed by these relics.
Scoring one for Harvard vis a vis the first 50 names in the Cambridge phonebook, President Summers is credited by a NY Suneditorial for making an observation that is commonsensical to parents but induces vapors among the progressive intelligentsia:
It is not a coincidence that in the remarks on innate gender differences that were so eczematous to the radical professors at Harvard, Mr. Summers spoke of his recent visit to Israel. "There is reasonably strong evidence of taste differences between little girls and little boys that are not easy to attribute to socialization," Mr. Summers said, according to a transcript of his remarks posted on his Harvard Web site. "I just returned from Israel, where we had the opportunity to visit a kibbutz, and to spend some time talking about the history of the kibbutz movement, and it is really very striking to hear how the movement started with an absolute commitment, of a kind one doesn't encounter in other places, that everybody was going to do the same jobs."
The Harvard president went on, "Sometimes the women were going to fix the tractors, and the men were going to work in the nurseries, sometimes the men were going to fix the tractors and the women were going to work in the nurseries, and just under the pressure of what everyone wanted, in a hundred different kibbutzes, each one of which evolved, it all moved in the same direction. So, I think, while I would prefer to believe otherwise, I guess my experience with my two-and-a-half-year-old twin daughters who were not given dolls and who were given trucks, and found themselves saying to each other, 'look, daddy truck is carrying the baby truck,' tells me something."
* * *
Derbyshire makes a very good point regarding the diversity claque's mantra on "institutional barriers":
Larry Summers is in deep doo-doo. He pretty much laid out the entire case against the "diversity" racket. He even included the most telling argument of all, the one that says: "Look, if, as you claim, there is this pool of super-talented people who are being passed over because of 'discrimination,' then why doesn't some academic entrepreneur sweep them all up and create a super-department out of them?" These things must not be said. Once you open these doors, there is no telling where thought will lead you. The diversity business is huge -- just look at its glossy magazine, DIVERSITY INC. It will not be mocked. Summers is toast.
During the days of real Jim Crow, when superlative black players were barred from major league baseball, Bill Veeck actually did plan to create a super-team by buying the Phillies and stocking the team with Negro League stars. Baseball commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis, a racist of the old school, put the kibosh on the deal that would have broken baseball's color line four years before Jackie Robinson.
Their victory came during my freshman year at BU, and to those of us who majored in the Dugout and minored in yelling 'Sieve' at opposing goalies, the fact that ourguys had been at the heart of the history-making team was a point of pride.
His life began to seem star-crossed…In 1982, after auditioning for the job of Channel 38 color commentator, Tony suffered a massive heart attack while riding in a car with Billy. He survived it, but just barely, and lived in the constant care of his family until his death this year. 
(One imagines that if the New York Times, the Florida judiciary, and the odd Jesuit medical ethicist had had a say in the matter, his family would have cut off his food and water long before eight years had passed.)
Heaven knows, I'm the last person to be accusing anyone else of indifference. I don't pay attention to every tragedy in the news. All of us have lives to lead. And what can we do, anyway?
A very small thing we bloggers can do is to pass on stories that need to be told, to add our piece to the samizdat, as it were, in the hope a critical mass will be reached and the message will get through: Wake up!
And so, a couple of items:
The Sudan hasn't been on my front burner, certainly. It's been another name in a litany of sad places in the headlines. Nicholas Kristof's column today in the NYT brings home the horrors there. We can't say we didn't know.
Meantime, about Terri Schiavo: There are activists out there, more power to them, whose lives have revolved around her case. Mine hasn't.
But as the matter reaches a crisis point, I'm struck by the lack of interest shown by the mainstream media, medical ethicists, civil libertarians, and the big blogs.
A brain-damaged woman is about to be starved to death in what the papers keep referring to as a "right to die" case, or an "assisted suicide."
That she wants the "right to die" is asserted solely by the man who may well have been responsible for her injuries in the first place.
Where have the papers been on this? What about the abused-women's lobby, or the ACLU?
Why has her estranged husband been so bent on her termination? Why hasn't he simply divorced her and allowed her to be cared for by her parents?
The whole thing frankly smacks of OJ and Scott Peterson. If I were this woman's father and believed her husband was trying to kill her, I'd damned well be "meddlesome," too.
And removing Terri Schiavo's feeding tube is not a matter of letting this poor woman humanely pass on – it's a matter of starving her under protocols evocative of Death Row.
I suspect the editorialists who favor relieving this woman of her miserable existence as a blow for her personal freedom wouldn't leave their own pets without food or water for two weeks. What would be "humane" under the circumstances would simply be to execute her by lethal injection, or put a pillow over her face, or shoot her. Why don't they and get it over with?
Why, for that matter, didn't they do the same with Christopher Reeve? He couldn't feed himself, either. Or is it only brain-damaged people who are to be deprived of food and water?
How can newspapers worth their salt look at the Terri Schiavo case and come away simply with thumb-sucking nostrums about the need for living wills? Are deadline-harried reporters so wed to their story templates that they've lost the ability to discern? Does the newsroom automatically tune out Terri Schiavo's supporters as "pro-lifers" and hence, religious extremists to be ignored? Does the "right to die" extend beyond killing yourself to killing someone else for their own good – particularly if the "guardian" ordering the killing is a husband who may be finishing a job he'd already started?
(CBS/AP) A judge Wednesday extended a stay keeping brain-damaged Terri Schiavo's feeding tube in place, saying he needed time to decide whether her husband, who wants to let her die, is fit to be her guardian.
Pinellas Circuit Court Judge George Greer extended until Friday an emergency stay that was to expire Wednesday afternoon. He said he also needs more time to determine whether Terri Schiavo needs more medical tests to determine if she has greater mental capabilities than previously thought. #
It was during the 1944 Stanley Cup final playoff series that Johnny Gottselig, the old stickhandling wizard and one-time coach of the Chicago Black Hawks, regaled us by relating some of the early bizarre history of the team.
"The goofiest year I ever spent with the Hawks was 1932," he said. "We had a new coach, a guy named Godfrey Matheson from Winnipeg, who got the job by writing Maj. Frederic McLaughlin, the owner of the Hawks, a letter.
"The first thing he said to us was: 'You are all adults. I will call you Mr. Gottselig, Mr. March and so on, and I want you to call me Mr. Matheson. I have appointed Mr. (Cy) Wentworth captain of the team and I want you to address him as Captain Wentworth.
"At our first practice, Matheson came out on the ice in street clothes, but he's wearing a pair of elbow pads and a pair of knee pads. Not under his clothes, over them. He looked weird.
"He puts a pail full of pucks on the ice and then gets down on his hands and knees. We were lined up behind him on both sides. He'd grab a puck and throw it out to one side and one of the players was supposed to pick it up at full speed and go down and take a shot on goal.
"Our goaltender was Charlie Gardiner, but he wouldn't let Charlie take part in the workouts. He said, 'Mr. Gardiner, you're too valuable to the team and I can't run the risk of injury.' So he buys one of those store dummies, puts a uniform on it and props it up in the net. That's what we were shooting at.
"Frock Lowrey thought he'd have a little fun with Mr. Matheson and when the coach was down on his knees tossing out those pucks, Frock pretended he missed the puck and tapped him on the back of the neck with his stick. He must have tapped him harder than he intended because the guy was knocked out and had to be carried off on a stretcher.
"'Carry on, men,' he says from the stretcher. 'Capt. Wentworth will be in charge until I'm able to resume.'
* * *
Free Stanley: A campaign has been launched in favor of awarding the Stanley Cup to a non-NHL winner now that the league has closed up shop for the season. A recent column in the New York Times proposes the trophy be given to the American Hockey League champion.
The Cup predates the NHL, originally having been put up by Lord Stanley in 1892 as a prize for the best amateur team in Canada, and awarded numerous times as a challenge cup. Clint Benedict, above, was between the pipes for the old Ottawa Senators when they won it in 1923, four years before the Cup became exclusively a National Hockey League trophy.
* * *
"One of the great rules of hockey is: On the Stanley Cup, all germs are healthy." -- George Vecsey
An essay chronicles the colorful uses to which the Stanley Cup has been put through the years by players who have drunk beer, doused cigars, and kept oysters in it, left it overnight in a frozen canal, taken it to a strip joint, and let a Kentucky Derby winner use it as a feedbag.
* * *
If ever they get around to playing hockey again, the Ottawa Senators should bring back the sweaters of their Stanley Cup-winning forebears, the Ottawa Silver Seven.
* * *
Now this is a hockey palace. Michigan's Western Upper Peninsula considers itself the birthplace of organized professional hockey, and an online museum of Copper Country hockey history has more ephemera than you can shake a stick at.
The original title of the hit song from George M. Cohan's musical George Washington, Jr. was "You're a Grand Old Rag." Really. Listen to a recording of it circa 1906 by Billy Murray, who also sang Cohan's"Yankee Doodle Boy."
Headlines were made recently when a brain-damaged woman in Kansas who'd been in a coma for most of her life regained the ability to speak, telling her parents, "I love you."
A Boston Globeeditorial today on the Kansas woman, Sarah Scantlin, remarkably makes no allusion to the case of Terri Schiavo.
Terri Schiavo is the brain-damaged woman in Florida who, barring judicial reprieve, is to have her feeding tube and water shut off, leaving her to die, after about two weeks, of starvation and dehydration.
This is to be done at her estranged husband's behest. Her parents want to care for her, but the courts have said no.
Watch the videos of Terri Schiavo posted at the website TerrisFight.org. Watch the heartbreaking one of her smiling at her mother.
There's someone in there.
Terri Schiavo can breathe. Her heart beats on its own. She isn't being kept alive artificially by a respirator.
What her husband wants to do is to starve her to death, in the name of her 'right to die'. He claims she wants it that way.
[L]ook what's ahead for that famous half-a person, Florida's Terri Schiavo. Her estranged husband seeks permission to disconnect the tube through which she receives food and water. Terri is conscious, and has been heard to say "Pain!" and "Help me!" Long before she starves, she will dehydrate. Her tongue will turn black. Her eyeballs will crack. Many say she's too brain-damaged to feel it, but we all know even a goldfish would feel it.
Wesley J. Smith writes in the Weekly Standard on the notion of a painless death for Terri Schiavo:
Michael Schiavo insists that dehydration is "the most natural way to die." It's more like torture.
Many who support Terri Schiavo's threatened dehydration assert that removing a feeding tube from a profoundly cognitively disabled person results in a painless and gentle ending. But is this really true? After all, it would be agonizing if you or I were locked in a room for two weeks and deprived of all food and water. So, why should we believe that cognitively disabled patients experience the deprivation differently simply because they receive nourishment through a feeding tube instead of by mouth?
The whole thing is monstrous. Yet by and large, the point seems to have been missed, or dismissed, by the papers.
I have covered highly visible, dramatic "right to die" cases—including those of Karen Ann Quinlan and Nancy Cruzan—for more than 25 years. Each time, most of the media, mirroring one another, have been shoddy and inaccurate.
The reporting on the fierce battle for the life of 39-year-old Terri Schiavo has been the worst case of this kind of journalistic malpractice I've seen.
Here's the artist Ralph Steadman, in a 2000 Salon interview, on Thompson and guns:
You know recently he tried to hit a bear; he tried to scare it, and he hit his aide. So that was a problem, and it worried him terribly. But he says, "I am one of the few people who should have guns." And I think he's one of the few people who shouldn't have guns; everybody else should have guns. He really is funny like that. He's dangerous when he's got a gun, but he's also good with a gun. But guns are hellish things, anyway, so I don't approve.
That Hunter S. Thompson made it to 67 is itself remarkable.
An excerpt: After getting his Muskie campaign credentials pulled for giving his press-pass to an ex-con "gin-crazed Boo Hoo" who terrorizes the campaign train, Thompson suggests in print that Muskie's rages may be attributable to the West African jungle drug ibogaine. It's not Theodore White, and it's priceless.
As explained here, the Boston Red Sox curse still lives, at least for hockey fans. When the Red Sox won the series in 1918, the following season’s Stanley Cup playoffs were canceled because of an influenza epidemic. Then everything went along fine for 85 years, with the Sox losing and the Cup being awarded. But then, last fall, the Red Sox won another series and, sure enough, hockey fans must now again suffer a Cupless season.
I feel remiss in having forgotten the Maine on the anniversary of its sinking.
As I've said before, whoever assembles This Day in History for the Library of Congress has a job I envy. Today's subject is Thomas Jefferson, winner of a congressional vote for president on this day in 1801.
* * *
On the topic of differences between the sexes, Al Roker has more freedom of inquiry on the Today Show than Larry Summers does at Harvard.
* * *
In Massachusetts, Gov. Mitt Romney, a Mormon, whose wife stricken with multiple sclerosis might stand to benefit from it, comes out against the cloning of embryos for stem-cell research – and is flayed by Sen. Ted Kennedy.
The question no longer seems to be whether the ostensibly Catholic Kennedy cares what the Church's position is on a given issue, but whether the senator takes pains specifically to oppose Church teachings on any and every social question.
As for the senator's latest pronouncements foreignpolicy: It's been observed, quite aptly, that Ted Kennedy is heir less to the tradition of his brothers John and Robert than to that of his father, Joe, the cynical defeatist who predicted democracy was doomed in Europe.
From the transcript of an American Experience on the Kennedys:
Michael Beschloss, Historian: Churchill hated Joseph Kennedy. Churchill saw Kennedy as the greatest impediment to his aim of getting the United States to help Britain in its struggle against Nazi Germany. He thought that Kennedy was a defeatist, an appeaser, perhaps pro-Hitler. He felt that Kennedy should be discredited.
Pamela Churchill Harriman, Daughter-in-law of Winston Churchill: Old Joe took the firm line that Britain could not win the war, that Hitler would win the war, that Hitler had the power and the strength and the will. He didn't understand the British steel.
Harvey Klemmer:The first night of the blitz, we walked down Piccadilly and he said, "I'll bet you five to one -- any sum -- that Hitler will be Buckingham Palace in two weeks."
Narrator: While Londoners endured the German assault, Kennedy spent the nights at a rented country house. The good will he had courted vanished. The British people sensed his defeatism and the British government tapped his telephone and opened his mail in an effort to discredit him.
Even in the darkest days of the war, Kennedy was using his position to enrich himself. He directed his aide, Harvey Klemmer, to requisition precious cargo space to ship 200,000 cases of whiskey for his own importing company.
Harvey Klemmer:And it got so bad that, finally, a friend came to see me one day and he said, "You better go easy on shipping the ambassador's whiskey, because one of his competitors is threatening to have a question raised in Parliament that he's using the influence of the American embassy to preempt shipping space which we can't get." So, we kind of tapered off a little bit after that.
Narrator: Kennedy would soon be lampooned as a coward and a defeatist on both side of the Atlantic.
Prof Milton Katz: [reciting satirical verse] Joe, Joe, Kennedy, Kennedy / Went to the Court of St. James / Where he was frequently seen with the King and Queen / At cricket and other games.
Said Joe, Joe, Kennedy, Kennedy / Before England went to war / "Swapping stories with dukes or Tories / Is what God made me for."
But when the bombs began to fall / All over London town / Said Joe, Joe, "I must go / England has let me down."
Sounds a lot like Massachusetts' senior senator today.
Wednesday, February 16, 2005
Remembering Otto Clemson Hiss: A corker of an obit at a blog that shall be missed. A.E.I.O.U.
* * *
Entire editions of Punch from the late 19th and early 20th centuries have been posted online at Project Gutenberg.
The pickelhaube cartoon excerpted above comes from the edition of April 9, 1919.
Just in time for Maple Leaf Flag Day in Canada this week comes the latest edition of the Red Ensign Standard, a roundup of the Red Ensign Brigade, a group of bloggers north of the border who still wave the old flag, sing "The Maple Leaf Forever," and quote Edmund Burke a lot.
The Brigade brings together a motley crew of Conservatives in their big and small C varieties, classical liberals, libertarians, moderates, and others whom are best described as right wing or simply malcontent. The golden thread that always unites this group is a profound sense of patriotism, a love of country - love of Canada and the most sincere desire and belief that Canada can do better.
And an online tribute to Teeder Kennedy at the Hockey Hall of Fame includes a video recalling the night in 1951 when he, as Toronto captain, welcomed the future Queen Elizabeth to Maple Leaf Gardens (above).
Other hockey legends are similarly profiled in the Hall of Fame's Spotlight series. All are accompanied by videos and Treasure Chests – here's Eddie Shore's. #
Tuesday, February 15, 2005
Hold that tiger
The Australian Museum has abandoned an ambitious attempt to clone an extinct marsupial known as the Tasmanian tiger, or thylacine, the AFP wire service reports.
The project to clone the animal using DNA recovered from a pickled thylacine pup (!– Ed.) was started in 1999, but the Sydney museum has admitted the quality of the DNA was too poor to work with.
An earlier post on the thylacine proposed the creature as the Tasmanian equivalent of the conservative in academia. That's not a totally apt comparison, as one or two academic conservatives remain in captivity. But cloning more would be a capital idea.
The indispensable Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, or FIRE, has launched a new blog, The Torch, which had this to say on the Ward Churchill matter:
The obvious (and easily discovered) problems with Churchill’s identity and scholarship raise a disturbing possibility (some would say a probability): Churchill’s scholarship was far less important to the University of Colorado than his ideology. A quick look at the ideological “balance” of Colorado’s faculty shows that the university essentially defines the word “biased.” Democrats outnumber Republicans in the social science and humanities departments by a ratio of greater than 32 to 1.
This imbalance brings to mind George Will’s recent application of Cass Sunstein’s “law of group polarization” to the ideological diversity debate. According to this principle (as explained in the article by Mark Bauerlein), “[w]hen like-minded people deliberate as an organized group, the general opinion shifts toward extreme versions of their common beliefs.” As a practical matter, when opinions become increasingly extreme, scholarship, competence, and truth become less important than advancing the dominant ideology.
At FIRE, we have long argued that viewpoint discrimination has negative real-world consequences (and make no mistake, you do not achieve 32-to-1 ideological imbalances without years of viewpoint discrimination in hiring, promotion, and retention). For those of you who continue to doubt this truth—for those who believe that such viewpoint discrimination is an essentially harmless application of departmental academic freedom—I present to you Mr. Ward Churchill, Exhibit A for the consequences of substituting ideology for competence.
[T]he whole issue of free speech and its smaller cousin, academic freedom, is of secondary importance in the controversy sparked by Hamilton College's invitation to Ward Churchill. The central issue, from which Hamilton administrators have managed to deflect attention, is the politicization of higher education. Which is to say that, as regards Hamilton College, the issue is less Ward Churchill than the Kirkland Project for the Study of Gender, Society and Culture, the left-wing, activist organization that for more than a decade has been a force for transforming a liberal education (I use "liberal" in the old sense) into a form of political indoctrination.
The Kirkland Project is one of hundreds, maybe thousands, of institutions on college campuses bent on radicalizing American society by betraying the intellectual and moral standards whose general observance they depend upon for their very existence. The silver lining in the sordid affair of Ward Churchill will be fully revealed when attention shifts from Churchill to the Kirkland Project, and from the Kirkland Project to the repudiation of liberal learning, academic standards, and moral probity that informs so much of what infects cultural life, especially academic cultural life, today.
When I went to college in the late 1950s, the professors in every department strived to expose students to debates and issues. We students seldom knew our professors' own opinions, because they didn't express them. We never knew whom they intended to vote for or even what party they belonged to. They insisted that we think but they never told us what to think. Today, however, many academics believe that they have a right and even a duty to proselytize for their political opinions. Since the Vietnam War, academics have become accustomed to signing political petitions, endorsing candidates, and advocating their views forcefully in class.
Rather than operating in accord with the principle of academic freedom, the university today excludes right-wing extremists, while left-wing extremists are likely to be hired, promoted, and eventually tenured. Both ends of the ideological spectrum should be judged by the same standards of scholarship. #
ChrisBourque, his father Ray's retired Bruins number hanging from the rafters above, scored the winner in OT and was named tournament MVP.
Meantime, the equipment trucks have departed Fenway. Red Sox pitchers and catchers report in two days. The Nats are already in camp. Come on, spring.
'Blog noise' being muffled by Google?
The IT news site The Register two years ago reported Google planned to create a search tool specifically for weblogs and likely would remove blogs from its main search results, with the aim of reducing "blog noise" from link-heavy personal weblogs given inordinate weight in searches.
Is this why blogs suddenly have been vanishing from Google searches? Is a new dedicated search tab for blogs planned, similar to the one for news groups? That wouldn't be bad thing. But you'd think it would be good PR for Google to at least announce what they were up to.
But on a Google search, this blog has dropped off the map -- if it's there, I can't find it. Same with my name.
As most people use Google to find things on the Web, those looking for my blog or for me are now going to have a hard time. If I had a business that relied on Web traffic to my blog, I'd be in a bad way.
Until this morning, a Google mirror site, bbernal.com, apparently using the old technology, had returned the old results, with this blog topping a search on Irish Elk. By late this afternoon, however, the Elk had gone extinct there, too.
Are only blogs hosted on the Google-owned Blogger system affected by the apparent algorithmic tinkering at the main Google site?
As an experiment I googled Mark Shea and his personal website came up, but not his popular blog at blogspot.com. On a Yahoo search, his Catholic and Enjoying It blog is returned first. Meantime, a Google search on Amy Welborn does return her Open Book blog at the top of the list. Her blog is hosted at Typepad.
Does this mean that if you want your blog to turn up in a Google search you have to move your blog off the Google-owned Blogger system to a rival platform like Typepad?
This can't be good for Google, can it? What's the story?
For Valentine's Day, here is the story of Cupid & Psyche, from Bulfinch's Mythology.
And two fine versions of "Valentine Stomp" are found on the Fats Waller page at Red Hot Jazz. The links, to cut and paste:
What if they called off the hockey season and nobody cared? That's about to happen. And it's a shame.
Boston is a hockey town after it's a baseball town. The only thing close to the mania that has gripped the region for the Red Sox was the fervor for the Bruins during the Bobby Orr days, when the B's owned the town.
The picture at Old Time Hockey could have been taken in any neighborhood in Greater Boston in the winter during the early '70s. (See the kid on the right? I had pants very much like those.)
It wasn't so long ago that people around here were crazy about pro hockey. But the reaction to no NHL this season has been the sound of crickets chirping. No one misses it. Imagine the reaction if they canceled the baseball season.
The NHL has made itself irrelevant. Talk about destroying your own brand.
* * *
A book by hockey writers Karl-Eric Reif and Jeff Z. Klein, The Death of Hockey, describes "how a bunch of guys with too much money and too little sense are killing the greatest game on earth."
[I]f one accepts that Charles and Camilla's relationship was not going to end, and rejects (as Charles himself obviously does) the idea that he should be forced to renounce the throne in order to marry her, there remain only two possibilities: either an indefinite continuation of their public non-marital relationship, or marriage. When the issue is framed this way, I think all monarchists have to be glad that Charles and Camilla have chosen the latter.
I do wonder if the announcement that Camilla will be merely "Princess Consort" and not "Queen" when Charles becomes King is merely a ploy to try to gradually prepare the public to accept her, and if they are hoping that by the time he succeeds to the throne, memories of 1992 will be so distant that it will be politically possible to proclaim her Queen after all. [I suppose I had this thought because I've read that Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary, whose assassination in 1914 provoked WWI, secretly intended to raise his morganatic (unequal) wife to Imperial status after he became emperor.] But this is pure speculation on my part.
In summary, I would say that while I have my reservations, I am basically glad at the news and wish the couple all possible happiness.
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From The Spectator:
"Mark Steyn says it’s time for limp, languid Tory toffs to join the fight for freedom." Great subhead, that.
Paul Johnson takes up split infinitives and copulation (in the grammatical sense):
I don’t give a damn for grammar, or syntax either. Having learned to ‘parse’ as a small boy, and done ten years of Latin and eight of Greek, I take it all for granted. But I love semantic and grammatical niggles and rejoice in the way some people get red in the face with rage at the lapses of others. Thus Earl Granville, when foreign secretary, telegraphed to Sir Stafford Northcote in Washington that the substance of the treaty between Britain and America (eventually signed 8 May 1871) was all right but that ‘in the wording of the Treaty Her Majesty’s Government would under no circumstances endure the insertion of an adverb between the preposition “to” and the verb’. The Earl was something of a stylist. Two years later he was out riding with Bishop Wilberforce, the famous ‘Soapy Sam’, when the bishop was flung from his horse on to his head and died instantly. The Earl recorded that his death was ‘essentially prelatical’. ‘He must have turned a complete somersault. His feet were in the direction in which we were going, his arms straight by his side — the position was absolutely monumental.’ Imagine Jack Straw writing like that!
My thanks to whomever for the nominations; to the Revealer for its very kind endorsement, and to unpaid precinct captain Steve M. for his tireless ward-heeling on this blog's behalf.
It does look as if it's going to be an early night (or afternoon, as it were) in both categories in which this blog is entered, though if trends continue there is a chance for a bronze for "Best Presentation," and for a claim to the title of Relatively Least Wicked Bizah of the Most Wicked Bizah.
From Australia, the Credibility Blog weighs in on the nominees in the design category, and on the use of the Mondrian template. Apparently last week's psychedelic '60s Patriots poster was too Jan Brady-ish.
Meantime, Dale Price checks his ballot and notes some significant omissions (his blog among them) and one ubiquitous mystery nominee. Forget Nihil Obstat: Whence Kevin D. Dello Iacono?
No monuments! For a baseball stadium, I think an architectural connection to the rest of federal Washington is NOT the way to go. The two most beautiful buildings in Washington are the Indian Museum and the National Cathedral and they are NOT federal. They're so different from the rest of what we've got, they make all of the fed buildings look stodgy (which they are!).
Now, then: What to give up for Lent? Tobacco probably ought to go.
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Fridays in my early years often meant Gorton's fish cakes, which I never particularly liked, and which have been replaced on the market by a surfeit of kid-friendly fish sticks and fish fillets, for which today's children should be grateful.
Gorton's still offers a recipe for codfish cakes, for those so inclined.
The brown-skinned man with the golden horn pursed his scarred lips, blew a short stream of incredibly high, shining notes and then carefully laid the trumpet down. "There's a thing I've dreamed of all my life," he graveled, "and I'll be damned if it don't look like it's about to come true--to be King of the Zulus' Parade. After that, I'll be ready to die."
This week few mortals were closer to heart's desire than jazz Trumpeter Daniel Louis Armstrong. At 48, he was on his way back to the town where he was born, to be monarch for a day as King of the Zulus in New Orleans' boisterous Mardi Gras. For the first time in its 33-year history, the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club (founded primarily to assure duespaying members a decent burial) had gone out of town for its carnival king. From its crosssection membership in the past had come Mardi Gras kings who were porters, shopkeepers and undertakers, but Trumpeter Armstrong was big-time royalty, even a world figure. Many jazz experts, who can be as snooty and esoteric as existentialists or the followers of a Bach cult, solemnly hail him as the greatest musical genius the U.S. has ever produced.
The Patriots' praises are being sung from the Antipodes to Fleet Street, where the Times describes the three-time Super Bowl champs' prowess in soccer parlance:
If the obvious comparison in European terms would be to teams who have won a cluster of European Cups, then the Patriots are Ajax, but without a Johann Cruyff, or Real Madrid without Alfredo Di Stefano. They are a functional outfit, more reminiscent of the Bayern Munich of the 1970s, with Tom Brady, the quarterback, as Franz Beckenbauer.
Without a bunch of superstars, putting team first and foremost, the Pats unfailingly rise to the occasion, and are gracious in victory. You listened to Tom Brady and Deion Branch after the game and thought, they've got class.
I can honestly say it never occurred to me that Governor Dummer was a funny name for the prep school until the administrators decided to changeit. Now alumni are mad and newspaper columnists are pokingfun. Not exactly a brilliant PR strategy: How many people, really, were making jokes about the school's name until the school itself took the Dum and Dummer cracks nationwide?
You want a tough name? How about this place's? How about the name of their magazine? One has a mental image of Kaiser Bill in pickelhaube squirreled away in a campus attic. Did they keep their name during the war years?
Speaking of which, this WWI propaganda art by Bernhardt Wall is good fun, if hard on dachshunds.
John Vernon, 72, a stage-trained actor who played a series of slimy villains and authority figures, never so well as in "National Lampoon's Animal House," in which he was the evil college dean, died Feb. 1 at his home in Los Angeles of complications from heart surgery.
Mr. Vernon did extensive voice-over work, starting with Big Brother in the 1956 film version of George Orwell's "1984."
But, citing his work in "Animal House," he once said, "I can't tell you how many times I've been asked to record people's answering-machine messages saying, 'Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son.' "
He was born Adolphus Raymondus Vernon Agopsowicz on Feb. 24, 1932, in Zehner, Canada, which he called a "one-grain-elevator town in Saskatchewan." While attending a Jesuit high school, he was chosen to read part of a Charles Dickens novel and so impressed his teacher that he was asked to become part of the theater group.
He attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London with such peers as Peter O'Toole, Albert Finney and Alan Bates. He began his stage career as a spear carrier at the Stratford Festival of Canada.
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A National Public Radio report on Animal House as American cultural icon has video clips from the movie, as well as audio of Otis Day and the Knights singing "Shout." Elsewhere:Quotes and sounds from the movie.
For over-the-top scenery chewing combined with ideological speechifying, it's hard to top riding-crop-toting Patricia Neal refusing to worship idols in the film version of The Fountainhead:
One of the most unusual artifacts ever to emerge from Hollywood, Ayn Rand's adaptation of her novel is a contradictory hodgepodge of sub-Nietzschean musing, so laden with wooden rhetoric and hysterical ranting that it could never be mistaken for any speech ever uttered on this planet. The bizarre miscasting of Cooper as an arrogant Ubermann and Patricia Neal as a mildly sadomasochistic intellectual only add to the fun. In the legendary scene in which Dominique watches Roark pound his pneumatic drill into the quarry rockface, there's no mistaking the beatific look on her face for intellectual excitement.
From almost any page of Atlas Shrugged, a voice can be heard, from painful necessity, commanding: "To a gas chamber -- go!"
Of more recent vintage is a richly entertaining hatchet job done by Ray Jenkins in the Baltimore Sun on Rand, the "consummate flibbertigibbet."
Scott McLemee was interviewed on Boston public-radio station WBUR this week about Rand's legacy. He writes on Feb. 2:
The more I think about it, the more her worldview resembles a Soviet era socialist-realist novel with the word "communism" scratched out and "capitalism" written in.
The joke has it that they were "boy meets tractor" romances. In her case, it's more like "masochistic girl meets skyscraper." In Atlas Shrugged, the world's oppressed capitalists go on strike. They then withdraw to what sure seems like a commune.
Meantime, Ken Masugi blogs from the Claremont Institute:
Ayn Rand is one of the great swindles of the twentieth century...That a figure such as Rand could have the influence she has wielded over the popular mind and some intellectuals reveals more the poverty of the loudest voices of the competition than the profundity of her work.
The Iraqi Shiites just gave every Iranian Shiite next door a demonstration of what real "Islamic" democracy is: it's when Muslims vote for anyone they want. I just want to be around for Iran's next election, when the ayatollahs try to veto reform candidates and Iranian Shiites ask, Why can't we vote for anyone, like Iraqi Shiites did? Oh, boy, that's going to be pay-per-view.
Then there is Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. This Charles-Manson-with-a-turban who heads the insurgency in Iraq had a bad hair day on Sunday. I wonder whether anyone told him about the suicide bomber who managed to blow up only himself outside a Baghdad polling station and how Iraqi voters walked around his body, spitting on it as they went by. Zarqawi claims to be the leader of the Iraqi Vietcong - the authentic carrier of Iraqis' national aspirations and desire to liberate their country from "U.S. occupation." In truth, he is the leader of the Iraqi Khmer Rouge - a murderous death cult.
[T]his election has made it crystal clear that the Iraq war is not between fascist insurgents and America, but between the fascist insurgents and the Iraqi people.
We know what it takes to upend the ossified order -- a progressive, an idealist and a revolutionary. That's George W. Bush, and no matter how much the academics weep into their trademarked Che Guevara T-shirts, that's how history will judge him.
This leaves the reactionary left in a quandary: Do they toss in their lot with transnational progressives who want a thin smear of Nordic socialism spread everywhere, or anti-capitalist anarchists who regard Starbucks as the evil empire, or neo-Stalinist nut goodies like ANSWER? Do they consider that there might be a higher purpose in life than hating Bush's guts, and give Americans a blast of steely can-do optimism for which the Democrats were once justly known?
Ask Howard Dean, who remarked at a recent New York City fund-raiser that he "hated the Republicans and everything they stand for." Hmm. Like elections in Afghanistan and Iraq?
The bullet train of history has left, Howard. Here's your handcart. Start pumping.
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Llama Butcher Steve mulls Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid and wonders what became of the party of FDR and Harry Truman.
Mark Noonan at Blogs for Bush gauges the reaction of the "Democratic" Underground to democracy in Iraq, and finds, not surprisingly, little sympathy. He also compares Kennedys, then and now.
"It is, Sir, as I have said, a small college. And yet, there are those who love it!"Daniel Webster
It says something about the tradition and spirit of Dartmouth College that, despite the determined efforts of a generation of PC iconoclasts, the school still summons the devoted loyalty of alums like the Power Line bloggers and former Reagan speechwriter Peter Robinson.
The latter is running for Dartmouth trustee on a platform that could be a manifesto for a quality liberal-arts college anywhere. Any Dartmouth alums among the readership here are heartily encouraged to vote Mr. Robinson a place on the board.
Elsewhere on the furry animal front: I've long taken issue with Arthur, the PBS cartoon character who is to an aardvark what a pika is to an anteater, and whose program takes the soft-sell approach to indoctrinating the kids on non-stereotypical gender roles and Kwanzaa and like trappings of progressive ed school enlightenment. But the kids like the show, so what the hey.
However, I've drawn the line on the grating, creepy spinoff Postcards from Buster, in which Arthur's bunny pal is given a seemingly endless holiday from school to fly about the country and take videos of the people and places he visits.
Buster's bunny friends and family are odd hominids, basically humans with rabbit ears who suggest experimental cross-bred mutants from the Island of Dr. Moreau. The father bunny's eyeglasses even rest on the place where his non-existent human ears should be.
Mixing live action and animation, the series has Buster visiting real people, all of whom are members of ethnic minorities and perform in folk dance troupes. They speak directly into the camera as if conversing with a high-voiced bunny interlocutor actually there. Prolonged exposure to the show = nails on a blackboard.
The other night Buster the Wandering Eyeball was interviewing mimes. That tore it. I have since taken to mocking the show openly in front of the children.
The program now finds itself at the center of controversy over an episode in which the roving high-pitched inquisitive bunny visits lesbian sugar-maple-tappers in Vermont (who may or may not be contra dancers in their spare time). All I can say is, if the show's funding gets cut, it's all right by me.