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Petty Spike


Jonah: One of my favorite Tom Petty songs–and I’ve been a pretty big Tom Petty fan over the years–is called “Spike.” Here’s the opening verse:

Oh, we got another one, just like the other ones

Another bad ass, another trouble-maker

I’m scared, ain’t you boys scared?

I wonder if he’s gonna show us what bad is?

Boys, we got a man with a dog collar on

You think we oughta throw ol’ Spike a bone?

It may not have been written about Spike Lee, but isn’t it fun to pretend?

More Unemployment


I’ve gotten huge piles of email on my post yesterday about unemployment. The gist seems to be that unemployment anecdotes, like unemployment data, are extremely variable based upon regional factors. From my unscientific scanning of an unscientific sample, I think I can authoritatively declare that the job market in the Pacific Northwest sucks eggs. But it sounds like things in the Atlanta area aren’t that bad.


Spike Lee’s Ego


Spike Lee won a temporary court injunction to prevent Viacom from renaming the cable network TNN “Spike TV.” Lee claims that people will associate the network with his name (as if that would be such a huge marketing boost). Frankly I am stunned that any court would even consider Lee’s complaint let alone grant him even a temporary victory. Spike Lee is hardly the first “Spike.” There’s Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, there’s Snoopy’s cousin Spike, there was a Spike on Happy Days, a leading volleyball player’s named Spike, etc etc. And, oh yeah, there’s the word “spike.”

UPDATE: And: Before 8 billion readers point it out, there’s also Spike Jones.

Web Briefing: July 31, 2014

Episode Two


I just got back from doing my CNN Sunday gig (I’m sure you were all watching — and the really attentive people noticed I was wearing a Heritage Foundation tie). Anyway, Star Wars Episode Two: Attack of the Clones is on HBO. And, I’ve got to say, contrary to whatever I may have said in the past, it really is scandalously disappointing. It’s just badly written. With the exception of young Anakin Skywalker, the acting is fine, the special effects are fine, the cinematography is fine, it’s just really terribly written. Perhaps it’s not as bad as Episode One, but what a tragedy it is to even have to make that comparison.


We, The Maya


Yesterday I read one of the oddest and least convincing pieces of civilizational doomsaying. The author is Jared Diamond–who also wrote the runaway bestseller Guns, Germs, and Steel–and it appears in the current issue of Harper’s (here’s the table of contents, but the article doesn’t appear to be online). It starts out in an appropriately gloomy way: “One of the disturbing facts of history is that so many civilizations collaspe.” True enough, I suppose. Most of the article is a reasonable review of why scholars believe Mayan civilization fell apart 11 or 12 centuries ago: overpopulation, overfarming, drought, warfare, etc. It seems that just about everything that could go wrong did go wrong for those poor folks in the Yucatan, who built such marvelous monuments in the jungle. (They’re definitely worth seeing; my wife and I went to Chichen Itza, Uxmal, and several other sites on our honeymoon.) Diamond, however, believes there are some pretty clear lessons for us in all this. “We do indeed differ from the Maya, but not in ways we might like: we have a much larger population, we have more potent destructive technology, and we face the risk of a worldwide rather than a local decline.” What’s more, we have “Enron” (mentioned twice in this survey of Mayan history) and “advocates of tax cuts for the rich.” I’m not going to be so hubristic as to say our own civilization won’t ever crumble, but I’m willing to bet that lowering marginal rates won’t ever be the cause. This is hysterical leftism at its finest–or worst, I should say.

Hopelessly Naive


I’ve just been a share of $12.7million by a princess who is a daughter of the King of the Ogoni. Sounds pretty good to me!

Cap This


The EU’s ‘common agricultural policy’ is an inefficient protectionist racket with very damaging consequences for the developing world. It’s at least arguable, however, that it’s a policy that benefits France. As a result, proposed reforms of this system have made little headway. Judging by this report, that’s not about to change. France has, it seems, acted (dread word) ‘unilaterally’ and negotiated in bad faith in its latest attempt to protect its farmers from the rigors of the free market. One can only say ‘bien fait’. The CAP may be a misguided and corrupt monstrosity, but, in defending it, France is demonstrating that it is prepared to put its interests (as it sees them) above those of the EU as a whole. Tony Blair should show that he can be equally tough in defending Britain’s national interest. He should reject the EU’s ‘constitution’ now – without further discussion.

He won’t, of course.

An Unappealing Cocktail


The Guardian has a good piece on Nurse Bloomberg’s ban on smoking in bars. The good news? Clothes no longer smell like ashtrays.

The bad?

“The downside is that, without the smoke to disguise it, you can now smell the bars: an unappealing cocktail of sweaty people, stale beer and vomit.”

Just another reminder of how the Nurse is affecting the quality of life in New York City.

Who Shot Bambi?


It’s not easy to decide which Disney character is the most repellent, but the New Yorker’s Anthony Lane is obviously no fan of Thumper:

“For every Shere Khan in The Jungle Book (a matchless introduction to malign ennui, and one of George Sanders’ finest hours), there was the dire prospect of listening to Thumper in Bambi, whose tapping hind paw made me think longingly of Lapin de Garenne au Saupiquet (“You must collect the blood of the rabbit in a jug,” my cookbook says. Any time.).”

He’s right. But why stop there? That simpering Bambi would be better roasted, carved and surrounded by potatoes, gravy and parsnips. As for relentlessly perky Jiminy Cricket, one four-letter word in response to his cheery chirping:


Time For The Gibbet?


These days, of course, England is not a country that would impress Ms Chase nearly so much. The level of crime would astonish her – as would the reaction of the authorities, passive in the face of burglary, active only in their efforts to prosecute the householder who uses ‘unreasonable force’ in an attempt to defend property that the state can no longer be bothered to protect.

Writing in a recent issue of the London Spectator Charles Moore suggests an alternative approach to scare criminals away, quoting a technique used by one ‘bloody Brown,’ a neighbor of the 19th Century journalist C.J Apperley:

“His garden had been frequently robbed of much of its choicest fruit, and he, being an old soldier…was one not to be trifled with on such occasions…He applied to a dissecting room in London and obtained the leg of a human being, fresh cut from the body, on which he put a stocking and a shoe, and then suspended it in a man-trap over his garden wall. The act obtained him the sobriquet I have mentioned, but his fruit was afterwards safe.”

There’s a lesson there for us all.

Old Books


One of life’s pleasures (for me anyway) alongside obituaries, Laphroiag, arguing with Derb, and reruns of the last moments of the late President Caucescu is a visit to a secondhand bookstore, mainly because I never know what it is that I am going to find. I was in Madison, Wisconsin, earlier this week and the fine store on State Street yielded three splendidly obscure treasures for a total of $23. The first was the memoir of a Finn (one Unto Parvilahti) who had spent ten years as a prisoner of the Soviets, the second was a 1939 book (The Soviet Power – The Socialist Sixth of The World) by the late – and unlamented – Rev. Hewlett Johnson, the ‘Red Dean’ of Canterbury (a man who would have got on rather badly with Mr. Parvilahti) and the third was This England, a travel book from 1936.

Hewlett Johnson’s effort was a reminder that the idiocy of ‘progressive’ clergymen has never known any limits and nor has their capacity to crawl to dictators. Here are a few choice examples of his ‘analysis’:

“[The Soviet] programme gripped me from its earliest formulation. Majestic in spirit, practical in detail, scientific in form, Christian in spirit…it is a programme which thinks, not in terms of a privileged class, but in terms of each individual soul…”

And then there’s this (remember this book was written two years after the launch of Stalin’s Great Terror):

“Nothing strikes the visitor to the Soviet Union more forcibly than the absence of fear.”

What’s more, the USSR was such a clean-cut place:

“Sex plays a comparatively small part in Soviet Russia…and everything lascivious or degenerate has been expunged from Soviet public life…”Petting parties” are unknown…”

Well, thank heavens for that.

Mary Ellen Chase’s This England was an altogether more pleasant, if rather rose-tinted, experience. For all the sugar-coating, however, it was difficult to read it and not come to the wistful conclusion that, for all its flaws England was, in many ways, a much nicer society than it is today. What’s more, those who could afford it also knew what made for a proper breakfast:

“Porridge with milk, rarely with cream, fish [kippers, I presume], bacon (or sausage or liver or kidneys or cold ham) and eggs, toast and orange marmalade, tea or coffee, the Times or The Daily Mail, a terse comment upon the weather and then calm, good-natured silence…”

A scepter’d isle indeed.



If, at some time in the late 1930s, a well-known author had given the government a list of writers and other public intellectuals who he thought could not be trusted to counter Nazi propaganda, this would have been regarded as unremarkable and, indeed, rather praiseworthy. No one would still be discussing it decades and decades later. How different it is when the ‘betrayed’ apologists for totalitarianism are communists at the height of the Stalin era.

Here’s a piece on the ‘scandal’ over George Orwell’s decision to give the British government a list of people he thought were pro-communist or worse.

One of the names was, interestingly enough, our old friend Walter Duranty.

Secret Cache Seized


From Fox News:

BAGHDAD, Iraq — Documents bearing the seal of Saddam Hussein’s secret service were seized early Saturday by U.S. forces during a raid of a Baghdad community hall.

The documents, which were handed over to senior intelligence analysts, mentioned Iraq’s nuclear program and may possibly contain information regarding Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction (search).

About 50 soldiers from the 1st Armored Division stormed the building at about 1 a.m. after sealing off part of Baghdad’s Azamiyah (search) district — a center of support for Saddam’s ousted regime. The neighborhood was where Saddam — or someone presenting himself as the Iraqi leader — last appeared in public before the capture of Baghdad on April 9.

Man, oh, Maneshevitz, it would be nice if this leads to huge stockpiles of WMD. But we’ve been burned on promising stories before, so we’ll see.



Not sure what to make of it, but anecdotally interesting:


Is anyone else getting suspicious? I work in the high tech area as an engineer. I socialize with many “working class” people. I attend a church that has a majority of its members working in non-professional fields. Nobody is unemployed and as a matter of fact, nobody can find enough people to fill the available slots where they work.

At my place of employment, our best and least best engineers are leaving for fantastic offers at Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Grumman, etc. At our church, the tradespeople have more work than they can possibly accomplish. My family had to search for over a year to find a builder to execute a renovation at our house. The lead guy on our framing crew said that a few years ago he only hired people with experience. Now, he’ll take anyone who is a hard worker. Every fast food place, convenience store, gas station or whatever that I frequent has a “now hiring” sign posted every which way one looks. Something just doesn’t add up.

I wonder if you would take one of your columns and analyze the “high” unemployment rate that the Left has latched onto as the only chink in George Bush’s armor. I’m suspicious that extended benefits and other government perks haven’t caused some folks to just kick back and stop working. I don’t have the answer, but as an engineer, when facts just don’t go together logically, I get suspicious.

Who Knew?


One of the more ridiculous claims made by the anti-tobacco zealots is the suggestion that people did not know that cigarettes were bad for them. It’s nonsense, of course, and, in this context, a reader writes to inform me that there is an episode of the Three Stooges in which Curly wins a sweepstake organized by the Coffin Nail Cigarette Company. Now that’s a telling fact in itself – fans of the three stooges have never been known to be the sharpest of people (Oh, spare me the outraged e-mails – Moe, Curly and that other fellow simply were not funny) and yet their scriptwriters knew that even aficionados of Cro-Magnon comedy would understand that cigarettes were ‘coffin nails’ and thus, presumably, bad for them.

The Dmv


Two observations. First, as I’ve said before, the Department of Motor Vehicles is too often a p.r. disaster for race relations and for liberals generally. The average suburban white probably has very little interaction with the welfare-state services provided by their local city governments. Perhaps the only physical interaction they have, aside from perhaps jury duty, is at the DMV. When the staff at the DMV is rude, incompetent or just plain uncaring, that is the impression suburban residents get of the whole system. That’s bad news. The fact that these employees often tend to be African-American in major cities, only compounds the prejudices of suburban whites. (Of course, Patty and Selma are the perfect poster-women for white DMV workers).

Second, I was standing next to an black guy in a track suit on the line at the DMV yesterday and we were making small talk. As we endured the snail’s pace of the line to pay off tickets and fines, he pointed to the tellers and said, “Look at this! I ain’t never seen people take such a longtime to take someone else’s money. This is the only place in the world where people are slow at taking money.” I thought it was an excellent point.



Only because some of you are asking: subscribe, donate, advertise–now you have the links.

Re: Thermopylae


Andrew: At such times I reach for my well-thumbed pocket-sized copy of Sir
Kenneth Dover’s Greek Homosexuality
(which Roger Scruton
, for some reason,
describes as a “trivializing” book). Turning to the index for “Thermopylae”
I find only “Thera… Theseus… thighs…” There are lots of entries for
“Sparta” though. Most are too long (and some too icky) to include here, but
the upshot of it is that Sir Ken is skeptical of this particular Spartan
myth, certain snide remarks by Plato notwithstanding. Sample: “If Spartans
in the fourth century B.C. unanimously and firmly denied that their erastai
and eromenoi ever had any bodily contact beyond a clasping of right hands,
it was not easy for an outsider even at the time to produce evidence to the
contrary, and for us it is impossible.” I shall continue to appeal to the

Potter....and Clintons?!


Mark Steyn in the Telegraph:

According to the prepublicity, the latest book – Living History: the Bulk Order of the Phoenix – would see Hillary rise from the ashes yet again, step out of Billy’s shadow and prepare to take Housewhites back from the evil usurper Lord W Bush (as fans know, the W stands for Woldemort, but by tradition the name is never said). But instead it’s mostly hundreds of pages about who Hillary sat by at the many school dinners she’s attended, with a brief passage about when Billy told her about Moaning Monica. According to the book, after spending the summer golfing with Uncle Vernon Jordan, he admits to Hillary that, although he did play quidditch, he never put his bludger in the golden snitch. Hillary thinks this is a lot of hufflepuff and, although he doesn’t die, Billy finds himself under an impediment curse which means that for the rest of the book he hardly gets to take his wand out at all and Uncle Vernon starts calling him Nearly Headless Bill.

Two Great Ones


Read Rush Limbaugh interviewing Michael Ledeen here.


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