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Wwje? (3)


One reader’s suggestion: “soul food, of course.”

Film Review of The Year


This is how a writer in the Village Voice recently began a review of the work of Lithuanian filmmaker Sarunas Bartas:

“A voice from the frontier of both post-post-industrial civilization and art-film reductionism, Lithuanian film-maker Sarunas Bartas may be the ultimate litmus test for hardcore cineastes. His films represent a polar cap of inhospitable cinematic ordeal – they withhold orthodox pleasures so strenuously you imagine the filmmaker as a marching ascetic, disgusted with a decadent movie world. A Bartas film rarely moves, and is never host to more than a few moments of inconsequential dialogue – you arrive long after life has already wound down into hopeless silence.”

Popcorn anyone?


Return of The Stiff Upper Lip


It’s difficult to avoid the suspicion that much of current psychiatric ‘therapy’ is nothing more than advice to constantly pick at a scab until it gets really infected. It’s a pleasant surprise to find an article in the New York Times that comes to pretty much the same conclusion.

One of the psychologists interviewed in the piece tells of working with a woman who said she was a sexual-abuse survivor and schizophrenic. “She had been in so much therapy and told her story so many times, and it reinforced her feelings of being sick. She’d been terribly infantilized by the mental health system, a system that tells women to recover by walking around clutching teddy bears and crying…With this woman, we never asked her about her past.”

It’s an important article, and well worth reading.

Web Briefing: October 30, 2014

The Nurse Claims Another Victim


Here’s yet another casualty of Bloomberg’s loutish crusade against smoking in public places.


How Rude Was Chirac?


Not very, according to these two writers who protest a little too much in trying to argue that Chirac’s choice of words to lecture the East Europeans was less rude than it appears. Let’s just say that their approach to translation is generous to M. Chirac. More to the point, it’s important to remember that the French president’s remarks were made in a diplomatic context, a context when extreme politesse is usually the rule. The use of even possibly insulting words was clearly designed to send a message.

And the East Europeans understood what that was.

The Other Regis


The New York Times runs an op-ed today on the current tensions between the US and “Europe” by one Regis Debray. Debray is described as a “former adviser to President Francois Mitterand of France, …editor of Cahiers de Mediologie and the author of the forthcoming The God That Prevailed. Quite what his article is about is hard to say: the French intelligentsia has not lost its talent for incomprehensibility. It’s also a shame that the NYT’s description of Debray is so bland.

Could this be the same Regis Debray who was once a crony of Castro and Guevara, the same Debray whose Revolution in the Revolution? was a basic manual for those who saw social revolution as the only way to resolve the problems of the Third World, the same Debray who traveled to Bolivia to join Guevara on his fruitless crusade to impose revolution on that country and who was jailed for his pains?

Yes, it could. Pity the New York Times didn’t say so.

Spies Like Them


According to Andrew Sullivan the latest Vanity Fair (my copy has disappeared into the clutches of Mrs. Stuttaford and is, therefore, unlikely to turn up any time soon) includes a favorable piece about a new TV series that apparently portrays Britain’s infamous Cambridge spies in a sympathetic manner. Given the way that support for Stalin is usually (and wrongly) regarded as having been infinitely less reprehensible than support for Hitler, this would be no surprise.

I need (obviously) to read the Vanity Fair piece, but the conclusion to Sullivan’s post is, in particular, worth reproducing in its own right. He takes this extract from Vanity Fair:

“Double agents are hard to root for – but Cambridge Spies makes a splendid case. ‘It is controversial, portraying these guys as heroes,’ says [actor Rupert] Penry-Jones. ‘But to stand up for what you believe in the way they did is pretty heroic.’”

And then Sullivan asks:

“”Heroic.” What does that make Solzhenitsyn or Havel? Fools?”

Still, in the end these Gulag groupies faced justice of a sort, albeit inadequate. Blunt died a despised figure in Britain, and as brilliantly suggested by the movie An Englishman Abroad (with Alan Bates extraordinary as Guy Burgess) the new lives that Philby, Burgess and Maclean tried to build in the supposed socialist paradise were suitably miserable, although infinitely preferable, of course, to the prison cells they so richly deserved.

Fans of a good graveyard (I’m one – I’ve always wanted to write a guide to the best worldwide, to be called, of course, Necropolitan, although a quick Google search would suggest that the name has been used elsewhere) will enjoy a visit to Philby’s final destination, a splendidly bleak spot just outside Moscow. In one section people are classified according to the services they rendered the Soviet state (or at least they were – I saw this in the early 1990s). So, for example, the air force men are all buried in one section, the naval folk in another. The tombstones often reflect these career choices. Those for the airmen sometimes carry aviation motifs, while the naval section boasts a good number with a more nautical design.

Naturally (this was the ex-USSR) the spies and other secret policemen had their own section (this is where Philby can be found). And on their tombstones? Appropriately enough, at least a couple featured people with fedoras pulled down low over their faces.

As for Burgess: For all his crimes, it was always said that his London club would credit him with one thing. Before fleeing to Moscow he apparently made sure that the books he had borrowed from the club’s library would be returned in good time. Betraying his country was one thing, letting down his club quite another – a nice little example of how the Cambridge spies remained weirdly true to the class that they worked so hard to destroy.

What Would Jesus Eat? (2)


Curried garbanzo beans, apparently.



Pope John Paul II is calling on all Catholics to fast on Ash Wednesday (March 5) against war in Iraq. With all due respect to the Holy Father, I shall be fasting that day for victory over the tyrant, for the protection of our soldiers, and for the successful defense of the United States and its allies against Arab/Islamic terrorism.

Better Late Than Never


Some Brits, at least, are not happy with the BBC’s coverage of the current crisis, while others (my heart bleeds) are discovering that it is not so straightforward being a human shield as they had thought.

What next? Could we see those grisly Taliban veterans returned to Afghanistan?

Taking a Byte Out of Mr. Chips?


A post on the Corner earlier this year on classroom use of the computer drew a large response. Computers, it is clear, are a useful tool and a fine teaching aid. They are not, however, any sort of substitute for a good teacher. The same is true of the ‘on-line classroom’.

What’s more, children appear to know it.

Blair and The Pope


Here’s an interesting piece on Blair and the Pope from the Sunday Telegraph. This is a debate that is likely to continue for some time with most Christian denominations. Rome is not alone in its current stance on the situation in the Middle East.

Blair and Bush should relax. It’s a pretty good rule that, when it comes to geopolitics, the best advice is to listen to clergymen with respect, attention and ostentatious displays of humility.

And then do the opposite of what they advise.

What Would Jesus Eat?


Here’s a rather surprising item about a diet book based on what Jesus might have eaten. Notice the good sense talked by its author about wine.

More From The Lunatic Asylum


More on the UK as a haven for the Taliban. Last week it was the footsoldiers, this week it’s the secret police.

It’s just another reason to ignore Britain’s arguments in favor of an International Criminal ‘court’. For all the talk about the importance of justice for the victims of tyranny, those notions clearly don’t apply when the Taliban was the oppressor and other Afghans were the oppressed.


Profile in Courage


On Meet the Press just now:

RUSSERT: “Would you take someone like Al Sharpton as your vice president?”

GEPHARDT: “I haven’t made that decision yet. …”

Isn’t that something? Gephardt doesn’t have the guts to say that he wouldn’t choose Tawana Brawley’s pastoral counselor, a rabble-rousing, race-baiting Harlem street preacher who has never served on as much as a sewer board, as his running mate. For non-Democrats, this Sharpton for President campaign is going to be an unparalled delight to watch. Rev. Al’s opponents are scared to death of him.

China in Space


I Am a Dork


I got an extra kick out of SNL last night because Douglas Feith (Undersecretary of Defense for Policy) was spoofed. The reason for the added enjoyment: he’s written for NR.

Our Kind of French Intellectual


Andre Glucksmann, one of the 1980s nouveau philosophes, thinks Chirac and Schroder are “living on a cloud.”

Actually, Nevermind


I should have read on. Bono said: Bill Clinton is “more of a rock star than any in this room.”

Speaking of Bono


What the heck was Bill Clinton doing at this Grammy event? (His wonderfully useful words to the crowd: “If you immediately think it’s us versus them, then this will not be a world for your children to grow up in.” Bet he’ll have good karma.)


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