History Questions

by John Holbo on May 3, 2006

I’m reading Robert Nisbet, Conservatism: Dream and Reality [amazon]. It’s a pretty ok little intro, suitable for undergrads; but kinda pricey for what it – a slim paperback, several years old (though I guess there’s a new edition.) Anyway, here’s a passage that raised my eyebrow: [click to continue…]

Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Professoriat

by John Holbo on May 3, 2006

It seems to me that 50 SF films for $16.47 is a good deal [Amazon]. Anyone care to comment on the various titles? It’s got classics like “Teenagers From Outer Space” and “Destroy All Planets” and “Phantom Planet” and “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians”. Everything. (Nothing good, of course.) It’s got John Agar and Basil Rathbone and Steve Reeves. How well do I remember the Young Fresh Fellows singing “The New John Agar”! Well, sort of well. It was long ago. Discuss! (Someone should start a roll-your-own MST3K mp3 commentary track project.)

This collection of 100 cartoons seems likely to be good as well. How can a badly made cartoon from the 30’s entitled “Professor Ya Ya’s Memories” be bad?

I know it seems terrible that I’m always flogging stuff from Amazon. But is it?

UPDATE: As is pointed out in comments, there is in fact a a whole series of 50-packs: mystery, horror, comedy, musical, drive-in, martial arts, historical, dark crimes, pastoral-comical, tragical, historical-pastoral, tragical-historical, tragical-comical-historical pastoral, robot monsteral-pastoral, santal clausal-tragical, teenageral-historical and so forth. Also, some intrepid/damned soul has reviewed every single item in the SF 50-pack!

No Death Penalty for Moussaoui

by Kieran Healy on May 3, 2006

Jury decides against execution. Seems like the right decision to me. Opportunist that he is, Moussaoui shouted “America, You Lost!” when being led from the courtroom, which is meaningless but may have its intended effect on those who wanted to see him executed. I’m sure he had an equally snappy alternative ready — perhaps something about martyrdom, or maybe just the same line, come to think of it — in case the decision had gone the other way.


by Jon Mandle on May 3, 2006

In a desperate effort to stay afloat bold and forward-looking move, napster (which shares only a name with the program from the glory days of 2000 and 2001) has made (most of) its 2 million tunes available for free. The catches: 1. you need to register (or find a clever way around registration); 2. it pops up a flash player so you can’t download them (unless you’re much more clever about these things than I am); 3. there’s an occasional ad; 4. you can only play each tune 5 times (on each registration, I’m guessing); 5. it is relatively low quality.

It may not be as convenient as various internet radio stations (especially customizable ones like launchcast) that you can just leave on, but if you’re looking for a particular song – say, after soaking in Bruce Springsteen’s version of “How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live?” you want to hear Ry Cooder’s version, or the original by Blind Alfred Reed (or the one by the Del Lords that I just found) – this is the place for you.

I wouldn’t normally just randomly link to stuff on the Guardian blog, but this one is quite important. The “ongoing genocide in Darfur” has been such a staple of Internet arguments over the morality of humanitarian intervention, the effectiveness of the United Nations, the unique moral awfulness of the European Unions etc etc, that it is easy to forget that this is actually a real place with a real war going on in it and that, as is surprisingly common in wars, the news does not stand still while you are writing your blog posts. The Sudanese government, who are villains right enough and who I am sure will face charges at the ICC in the future, are actually not the problem now; they are co-operating at the peace talks (peace talks? yes! and furthermore, they are being very capably supported by the USA! the USA? yes! apparently they do “the useless chit-chat of diplomacy” a lot better than they do wars!). At present, ill-informed comment in the developed world is potentially even worse than annoying; if it persuades the Darfurian rebel groups that the world is gearing up to decapitate the Khartoum regime, it’s actually dangerous.

The Best Defense Is A Good Offense?

by Belle Waring on May 3, 2006

Ow ow ow. Michael Bérubé uses his “web” “log” to bring the burninating. Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page attempted to defend incoming White House Press Secretary Tony Snow from charges of racism stemming, in part, from one of Page’s own columns. Unfortunately, he also inadvertently let slip the secret of Tony Snow’s mutant power…the power to see the future! (It’s totally like in this one story from Anne McCaffrey’s To Ride Pegasus, where there’s this mutant empath folksinger!) Read, and be amazed…

Tony Snow is eminently qualified to serve as White House press secretary not only because he is a man of conscience who genuinely cares about solving the tough problems of poverty, bad schools and sour race relations, but also because he can see the future. If you doubt it—or if you think, as an out-of-touch liberal elite critic who doesn’t understand physics, that this sensible blog has suddenly degenerated into trippy Fafblogisms—look again at Clarence Page’s “contextualization” of Snow’s remarks:

“Snow was trying to explain why the former Klansman had just won an estimated 55 percent of the white vote in the Louisiana governor’s race. Snow wanted me to know that, just as those of us who attended Minister Louis Farrakhan’s Million Man March were not acting out of black supremacy or anti-Semitism, neither were all Duke voters moved by racism.”

That’s right: back in the fall of 1991, when David Duke had just won 55 percent of the white vote in the Louisiana governor’s race, Tony Snow was able to compare David Duke’s white voters to black participants in a Farrakhan-led march that would not happen for another four years. That’s the kind of foresight and sagacity the White House needs now! Oh, how I wish I could have been a fly on the wall when Tony Snow turned and said to Clarence Page, “You can’t write off Duke’s voters as racists, Clarence. After all, four years from now, many of your people will take part in a march organized by a nutcase anti-Semite. And don’t even get me started on O. J. Simpson! It may be hard for you to see it now, but I have the very strong sense that something bad is going to happen with that man, and many white Americans are going to get extremely upset. David Duke is just proleptically channeling that future racial tension into a right-now campaign, and if mainstream politicians don’t listen to the frustrations of ordinary people and address them in some constructive way, the loony extremists inevitably will move in.”

Man, Trogdor would be proud.