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Trainspotting (Ctd)


My apologies. Trainspotting is not only a British pastime. A number of people have e-mailed to say that trains are being spotted here in the US too, by ’railfans’. Like their brothers across the Atlantic (I would be surprised if there are many sisters involved in this hobby) railfans are under pressure, but dealing with it in a curiously mature way – cooperation and ‘unthreatening’ tee shirts. The Washington Post takes up the story here, but for those not enthralled enough by all the excitement to click on the link here’s an extract:

“…chat sites have been filled for weeks with advice on what to do about the growing police attention. That advice includes a caution that the railroads also stress: Don’t trespass on railroad property. Many of the postings take a patriotic tone; many others express anger. But the advice also includes ways to look unthreatening, by wearing a shirt with a locomotive on it, for instance, or carrying railfan magazines to show police officers who never heard of the hobby.

“As crazy as it sounds, you need to educate the cop about our strange hobby in under 60 seconds,” wrote Todd Clark, the webmaster of

Clark said in an interview that, for the most part, railroad police are familiar with the hobby but local police “think it’s bizarre that grown men would be out there taking pictures of trains.”

Rutter suggested that railfans be “mellow” when approached by police. He said Whitenight was a good example of how to act: Cooperate, keep cool and understand that “everything passes in time.””

Sadly, there are some extremists:

“Some railfans are advising their brothers to remain undercover as much as possible, not looking like railfans, keeping the car out of sight, taking one photo and moving to another location. This is becoming known as “guerrilla railfanning.””

In a possibly related development units of heavily armed stamp collectors are said to be gathering somewhere in the hinterland.

More Anti-Smokers


Here’s a country that agrees with the EU about the importance of banning cigarettes from movies. Yes, it’s a dictatorship – Vietnam (thanks to the reader who pointed this out).

And here’s an extract from a Time Magazine profile of Ho Chi Minh:

“In Paris, Ho worked as a photo retoucher. The city’s fancy restaurants were beyond his means, but he indulged in one luxury–American cigarettes, preferably Camels or Lucky Strikes. “


Spirited Sundays


Web Briefing: December 19, 2014

“Regime Change”


Rumsfeld re: Iran. The say I hear Colin Powell speak those words…


Jayson Blair, Poet


Jonah’s link omits several of Blair’s poems, which have turned up in Terrapin UnBound, a short-lived University of Maryland literary mag. (Sorry, I can’t do links–too old technology). The short one beginning “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?/Thou are more lovely and more temperate” is really quite good, as are many passages of the longer one beginning “Of man’s first disobedience and the fruit/Of that forbidden tree whose mortal taste/Brought death into the world…”

Derb in La


I shall be flying to LA tomorrow morning at — gaaaaah! — 7:15 am for Book
Expo America. This is a trade show & I am not sure that members of the
public are allowed in. At any rate, they just sent me an access pass the
size of a mouse pad, with bar codes all over it. I’ll be staying at the
Holiday Inn Downtown at 750 Garland & be glad to sign a book for anyone who
drops by, though obviously you should call ahead first to see if I’m in
(213-628-5242). My publisher is paying for the trip so of course if they
want me somewhere I have to be there. If you DO figure a way to gatecrash
BEA, we are table 26 at the LA Convention Center & I’m listed as doing an
EVENT there from 1:30 to 2:00 Saturday. I have no clue what EVENT means but
am ready for anything up to & including juggling chain saws.

Pryor - “True Believer”


The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has this profile of Alabama Attorney General William Pryor, nominated to a vacancy on the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals — arguably President Bush’s most controversial judicial nominee to date. A sidebar discusses Pryor’s “personal distaste” for abortion. Those interested in more on the Pryor nomination should check out Southern Appeal, Pryor’s biggest blawg booster. Those interested in a preview of Pryor’s opposition should visit Ignatz. Searching Pryor on either blawg will pull up lots o’ stuff.

More Sociology of The Right


From a reader:

I was just like that twice-a-day bong ripper who voted for Dole and felt pro-life inclinations. At college in Seattle in the late ’80s — even after barely getting home from a Dead Kennedy or Butthole Surfers show, no matter how wasted I was, I could still sober up enough to read my American Spectator or NR for a few before slipping off to sleep.

I think a lot of us con Gen-Xers are the way we are because that is not the way our parents were. In my case, my divorced urban liberal parents’ sexual mores shocked and embarassed me so much — all I knew was that I did not want to be like them. Today, I still smoke pot but on Sundays you’ll find me at a Latin Mass –on my knees.



From a reader:

Dear Jonah:
Your reader, and your comment on social life in college, have hit upon the great truth that was Socrates’s argument for the education of women: In general, men will do more or less whatever women want, so the key to a good society is to educate women to want the right things.

National Review Must Have One!


This is something we could raise money for. This is something NROniks would pay to go on. This is something we need! Our own aircraft carrier!

When Goldberg and Derbyshire Collide


The Rough End of The Pineapple


Trainspotting under threat! Read this and be amazed by this very British hobby – and by those who would ban it.

Good Point


From a reader about the Hipublicans G-File:

Jonah -

There is an important aspect of the conservative/liberal relationship at colleges that you did not address: young college guys are at a stage in their life where they’ll do ANYTHING to attract the attention of college women. At most colleges (where women are getting their first taste of leftism), that means guys end up saying things like “Of course I’m a feminist,” “I love the environment – it’s so spiritual,” or “You hate George Bush too? Wanna smoke some pot and listen to Pink Floyd?” It’s a supply and demand issue. Guys are just giving women what they want. If you recall, even the clown on the stairs with the guitar in Animal House was surrounded by women before Bluto smashed his guitar to bits.

Later in life, as these women start looking for a more long term and stable relationship, or even marriage, many guys will then throw out their Bob Marley posters and start looking for a consulting job.

At least that’s my excuse why women didn’t like me much during my first two years at college.

My response I’d phrase some of this differently, but I think this reader identifies one of the issues always underplayed in analysis of campus politics: social life is very important. Personally, I think the desire to get chicks and not get in the way of drinking and drug use is one of the main explanations for the popularity of libertarianism on college campuses. There are other factors of course, the fetishization of individuality being a major one, but the desire not to seem like a drag is a big part of the story.

Packy East


NRO has plenty of good stuff on Sir Bob Hope, one of the great Englishmen of the last hundred years, but here’s the Daily Telegraph’s view. This detail is too good not to repeat:

“It took the young talent some time to make it big. He once worked as a newspaper reporter, boxed under the name of Packy East, played third billing to Siamese twins and trained seals and worked as a warm-up for the comedian Fatty Arbuckle.”

I like the way that “newspaper reporter” is included in that list of lowly occupations. Very New York Times.

Us and Them


How ‘they’ see the US : an article by a member of the European ‘parliament’. Read while sitting down and in a calm mood. Memo to the supposedly ‘dumbfounded’ Republican congressman: you’re right and Clegg is wrong.

Jayson Blair’s College Poems


Light Up


I very rarely smoke cigarettes, but I do occasionally enjoy a cigar. Saturday, May 31st will be a good day for a cigar, I think. If you are in an aeroplane on Saturday, however, or stuck in one of Nurse Bloomberg’s bleak (and increasingly empty) bars, why not try this instead?

Censorship Watch


Just when you think that the EU cannot get any worse, the bureaucrats at the Commission have come up with this – a proposal that the EU’s member ’states’ (a term one uses with ever-decreasing confidence these days) should ban smoking in films and, it appears, fashion shoots in magazines. An individual with the extremely important title of ‘Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner’ claims to be worried that “movie characters smoking onscreen often look cool and glamorous”. Well, yes, they do, but so what? In any event, why stop there? Movies often feature ‘cool and glamorous’ murderers, thieves, and con men. Are those to be banned too?

Mike Tyson: All Class


From Fox News:

In a television interview scheduled for broadcast Thursday, Tyson again denied he raped Desiree Washington in 1991 in an Indianapolis hotel room. But he said the burden of being labeled a convicted rapist makes him want to do it now.

“I just hate her guts. She put me in that state, where I don’t know,” Tyson said. “I really wish I did now. But now I really do want to rape her.”

Tyson made the comments during a recent interview in Miami Beach with Greta Van Susteren, who was taking a look back at the circumstances of Tyson’s 1992 trial that ended with him convicted of rape and sentenced to six years in prison.

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