‘A crazy vehicle,’ &c.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta


You may laugh at this — or not. The headline said, “Putin’s idea to house Jewish collections rejected.” I thought, “Are Putin’s ideas ever rejected? Doesn’t he get his way, on everything?” Then I read the article: “A U.S.-based Jewish group Thursday rejected Russian President Vladimir Putin’s suggestion to house disputed historical collections of books and documents at a Jewish museum in Moscow.”

Ah! (I doubt that Putin’s ideas are ever rejected within Russia.) (Although maybe Mrs. Putin says no once in a while.)

This article is about the evil that Islamists inflict on children in Mali. I won’t go into detail. But I would like to cite one detail, just for its poignancy, and maybe for its incongruousness: “They sit cross-legged on mats on the sand floor of the thatched hut — the girls on one side all wearing headscarves with some carrying Hannah Montana backpacks, too.”

I had a special interest in this: because I’m from Michigan. I have linked to Forbes magazine’s list of America’s Most Miserable Cities. Three of the top ten are in Michigan. Three are in Illinois. And three are in California.

Think of that: Of the ten most miserable cities, nine are in three states. The tenth is in New York — is New York City. I can tell you this: NYC is a Garden of Eden, if you’re lucky to live in the right place. Are there gardens of Eden within Detroit, Flint, or Warren (the three Michigan cities in the ten most miserable)? Doubt it.

A man named Adolf Hitler is running for election in India — reelection, actually. Read about it here. “His father had worked with the British army, but apparently developed enough of a fascination with Great Britain’s archenemy to name his son Adolf Hitler . . .”

Seems not to have hindered him, weirdly.

I have a headline that you might like to file under “The Infantilization of America”: “Judges learn it’s human to have feelings on bench.” (Article here.)

Ay, caramba (as Lisa and Maggie’s brother would say).

I had a thought while reading A History of the English-Speaking Peoples: Churchill refers to Britain as “our Island.” He does this a lot. Note the capital “I”! My question is, Do immigrants and their children think of Britain as “our Island” — as their Island?

Hell, do regular old Britons?

Walking on the West Side the other day — though not the Upper West Side — I passed a High School for Environmental Studies. (I’m speaking of Manhattan.) For the last many years, my impression has been that all high schools, throughout the land, are high schools for environmental studies.

Is this a school where the green education is even more intense? (I phrased that question as politely as I could. Took several tries.)

Maybe someone could explain this to me: According to the AP account, James Franco, an actor, started the Daytona 500 in a peculiar way. He said, “Drivers . . . and Danica!!! . . . start your engines.” Danica is Danica Patrick, a female driver. But she’s a driver, right? So why “drivers and Danica”?

I admire the way the Indianapolis 500 handled it in 1977 — a historic year. The traditional announcement is, “Gentlemen, start your engines.” But, in ’77, Janet Guthrie was among the drivers — the first woman to race in the Indy 500. How to preserve the traditional announcement but include her?

The announcer said, “In company with the first lady ever to qualify at Indianapolis, gentlemen, start your engines.”

I like Carl Pettersson too. He’s a golfer, and, at their recent tournament in Arizona, it was uncharacteristically cold. Snowing, in fact. As we learn in this report, Pettersson said, “This is one time I have the advantage of being fat.”

Thanks for joining me, ladies and gentlemen — drivers and Danica! I don’t think I’ll be scribbling at you again this week. Traveling. But will report back to you “in due course,” as WFB would say.

Want to close with a letter, which responds to this column last week. In an item about Somalia, I said that Iman, the model, was a beauty “not atypical of her country.” A reader writes,


As is often the case, P. J. O’Rourke has the last word on the matter. I quote from memory: “The best thing about Somalia is that the women are absolutely the most beautiful in the world. The worst thing about Somalia is that every male above the age of five has a gun.”

A few years back, I relayed that quip to a Somali immigrant co-worker. He eyed me warily for a full five seconds, wondering if there was an insult in there somewhere. Then he grinned wide with a wicked gleam in his eye and said, “He’s right.”

To order Jay Nordlinger’s book Peace, They Say: A History of the Nobel Peace Prize, the Most Famous and Controversial Prize in the World, go here. To order his collection Here, There & Everywhere, go here.