“A Rose in the Desert” was how Vogue described the “glamorous, young, and very chic” Asma Assad in a fawning profile of the Syrian dictator’s wife last March. The timing of the piece proved embarrassing for the magazine, as it coincided with the beginning of Bashar Assad’s ongoing slaughter of Syrians, which has so far claimed the lives of well over 9,000 men, women, and children. An initially defensive Vogue (a senior editor insisted the piece was “a balanced view of the first lady”) later scrubbed the 3,200-word article from its website without explanation. In an interview with NPR last month, the author of the piece, Joan Juliet Buck, mused that in retrospect she wished a different title had been chosen for the piece and that it was “horrifying to have been near people like that.” Judging from the piece, any horror Ms. Buck felt at the time was evidently overcome in admiration for Asma’s “long-limbed beauty,” her “Syrian-silk Louboutin tote,” and her professed commitment to engaging Syrian children in “active citizenship.” Appropriately, Vogue’s attempt to quietly erase its shameful paean to the Assads has been thwarted by an employee of the Syrian state-run news agency who has reprinted the article on a fan-page titled “In Bashar Al-Assad We TRUST.”
Al-Qaeda spokesman Azzam al-Amriki, a.k.a. Adam Pearlman of Riverside County, Calif., was terribly upset about MSNBC’s firing of Keith Olbermann. (Keith Olbermann, if you have forgotten, is a sports commentator who used to shout incoherently about politics on MSNBC.) “I used to think that MSNBC channel may be good and neutral a bit,” he wrote, “but it has lately fired two of the most famous journalists — Keith Olbermann and Octavia Nasr the Lebanese.” In the case of Octavia Nasr, Mr. Pearlman has confused MSNBC and CNN, which is admittedly easy to do, but otherwise he shows that he is every bit as good a media critic as he is a political analyst. Could somebody get this guy a talk show? Or a drone?
In the Old West, or at least in old Westerns, bad guys used to fire their Colt .45s at an enemy’s feet while snarling, “Dance, pardner!” In today’s West, the guns and the dances are more sophisticated — at least in Clark Fork, Idaho, where a man said to have been using drugs (which seems entirely plausible) pointed an AR-15 semiautomatic at another man and ordered him to moonwalk. Not quite a Deliverance-level ordeal, perhaps, but scary nonetheless. The Bonner County Daily Bee’s conscientious reporter explains: “Late singer Michael Jackson popularized the moonwalk dance move, although a slew of other entertainers — from Cab Calloway and Ronnie Hawkins to David Bowie and Dick Van Dyke — have been credited for using a variation of the move.” The perp told police he was using an Airsoft pellet gun, but folks in Idaho know the difference, so he faced a stiff sentence until his victim asked that charges be conditionally dismissed (he remains jailed for violating his probation). Should have tried a dance-craze defense.
Dinosaurs get a bad rap. Their very name connotes obsolescence and fustiness; in abbreviated form, it is a pejorative term for Democrats who can do math. Now British scientists are blaming dinosaurs for global warming — not just today, by having had the poor judgment to rot into a rich brew of hydrocarbons, but in their own era, through the humbler route of flatulence, which filled the atmosphere with greenhouse gases. Still, the poor extinct beasts deserve some sympathy, because Chinese researchers have found that they were plagued by large, parasitic insects — or as the Register, a British technology website, puts it, “Dinosaurs were DRAINED of blood by GIGANTIC HORROR FLEAS.” That excuses a little anti-social behavior now and then, doesn’t it?