|...Views from mid-Atlantic|
29 November 2003
The Bible, according to Christian publisher Thomas Nelson, Inc, can be cool. If, like me, you didn't think that was quite what was intended, get a load of this.
"'There are no thee's and thou's,' says Kate Etue, senior editor at Nelson. 'The translation we've used puts the Scripture, which was written thousands of years ago, into everyday English. It makes it relevant. It isn't just words strung together. It's God speaking directly to the girls.'"
This, apparently, is what He's saying in the cool edition:
"God made guys to be the leaders. This means that they lead in relationships."
"Girls don't call guys. Guys need to step up and be the man."
"Dating a nonbeliever is like playing with fire. God wants Christians to marry other Christians."
Sir Nicholas Serota, the Director of the Tate museums, recently broke ranks with accepted British opinion and suggested the country's habit of trying to buy every work of art that might otherwise have left the country was unnecessary. The National Art Collection Fund's director, David Barrie agrees.
He writes: "We have to get away from 'the fire brigade technique' of saving art for the nation. In the words of Viscount Radcliffe, whose essay Spoliation by Purse (1959) was quoted by another participant, Professor Norman Palmer: 'It diverts attention from the importance of galleries and museums acquiring objects which they specially need for their own purposes. It attracts attention to the urgency of acquiring an object just because it has been in this country and is now about to leave, and by doing so it imposes on the public purse the most expensive and the least satisfactory method of purchase.'"
"We have that man Shakespeare with us," was what Mary Herbert, Countess of Pemboke, wrote her delinquent son, William, to get him to join her at the Pembroke home, Wilton House. To celebrate William's 17th birthday, she supposedly asked Shakespeare to write sonnets for him, urging him to marry. Shakespeare may have gone further than that, by basing Bertram, the Countess of Rossillion's son in All's Well that Ends Well, on William.
Gregory Doran recounts the story in the Guardian.
Lady Mary was a fascinating and talented woman in her own right. Her brother was Sir Philip Sidney. After he died, she published a metrical translation of the Psalms on which they had both worked, and Sir Philip's The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia, which he dedicated to his sister, and in which he tells the story of Parthenia, whose facial disfigurement is cured. It was a work born of personal experience, as their mother had caught smallpox from Queen Elizabeth, and had been disfigured by it. Lady Mary was a highly respected patroness of the arts all her life. Edmund Spenser dedicated his Ruines of Time to her.
When the wrong tune was played as the Spanish national anthem at the Davis Cup finals in Melbourne, Spain's sports minister, Juan Antonio Gomez-Angulo, stormed out of the stadium after trying to stop the performance, and threatened to pull the team out of the event unless a full apology was made.
Over the top? Of course, but if you're tempted to put it down to Sr Gomez's Latin temperament, what would you call this? A tie, no doubt.
28 November 2003
This Wapo analysis of the President's visit to Iraq yesterday gets it about right . It's politics the way it's supposed to be.
"What essentially happened is that Childs and Libeskind abandoned their rigid adherence to their designs to try to come up with another building that incorporates the best of both," said Mr. Libeskind's lawyer, Ed Hayes, who has seen early drafts of the new tower."
This piece in the New York Observer suggests that Governor Pataki was as much to blame as the architects for the difficulty in finding common ground in a design for the rebuilding of the World Trade Center, because he set an overly aggressive timetable for the project. I have a feeling that if they'd been given half an eternity to sort it out, these two would have been arguing right down to the wire.
Now that they've found a cure for sick buildings, maybe someone will get around to admitting that there are such things.
This poor man. Talk about having a bad night!
Mao Tse-tung as a rapper? See how far behind the times I am? I didn't know you could even get acid in China.
WWF, formerly the World Wide Fund for Nature, says that by ignoring the advice of its own scientists, the EU has doomed several species of fish found off Britain.
To the ever-lasting credit of those involved, the Bermuda Government banned pot fishing some years ago and set aside large areas of shallow water as breeding grounds protected completely from any kind of fishing. Fishermen who lost their livelihood as a result were financially compensated. If was expensive, and a very tough thing to do politically, but it had become obvious that if it wasn't done, we weren't going to have any fish at all.
Was it worth it? Sure it was. It made fishing here sustainable in the long term. But our experience has been that fish species have a kind of critical population mass. If you let their numbers fall below a certain point, the damage done by unregulated fishing cannot be repaired in the short term, and will probably never be repaired. So the Europeans better move fast if they want any fish at all to survive.
Haven't we been here before? Early part of the debate over cigarettes. Am I right?
What's the difference between giving secrets to the Russians and giving them to the newspapers? There is none, is the correct answer, and this woman belongs in jail.
Comic strips apparently have roots that snake all the way back to the 15th Century. That would have been the Phantom, I guess.
According to the Chicago Tribune, the lead singer of a hot Chicago band got his start at the age of 11, playing guitar in a Mexican cantina for $10 a song. I guess the time I spent in Mexican cantinas did more damage than I thought. My recollection - admittedly hazy - is that in my day, $10 would buy you a share in the cantina and all of the singing action in a radius of about a mile.
27 November 2003
Peace has broken out in Sudan, which is wonderful news. It has been established beyond any doubt that Sudan is deeply involved in slavery, and this Washington Times story discusses the difficulties that fact causes. What I don't understand, however, is why modern-day slavery seems to be an issue that concerns very few people in the world. It doesn't fit with historical slavery being such a hot topic, does it?
Israel's clever little ploy at the United Nations seems to have succeeded. "We lifted the veil and exposed the true face of the UN General Assembly," said Dan Gillerman, the Israeli ambassador to the UN. Israel had attempted to have the international record reflect that Israeli children were victims of Palestinian terrorism because the Palestinians had, for two years in a row, pushed through resolutions focusing on the suffering of Palestinian children. The result was predictable - a Palestinian own goal.
Meantime, former CIA director James Woolsey warns that "Once anti-Semitism raises its head, the rest of us who don't want to live with a foot on the back of our necks are likely to be the next targets."
One of the toughest obstacles Tony Blair is going to have to jump next year will be negotiations on a new Constitutional treaty for the European Union. It's a battle that, in effect, pits those who believe in no more government than is necessary, against those who believe in Government as a kind of religious calling. Britain's problem is that it must become a part of Europe, but in its heart of hearts, would probably prefer to send in a gunboat instead, to cure the infernal clerks of Brussels of their taste for this kind of silliness.
The Archbishop of Canterbury has urged his flock to get their over-active noses out of things that don't concern them. In the very same issue of the very same newspaper, one of his flock proposes the very opposite. I-bloody-ronical, innit?
The late PG Wodehouse, bless his lovely soul, once dedicated a book, The Heart of a Goof, "To my daughter, Leonora, without whose never-failing sympathy and encouragement this book would have been finished in half the time." Read this story. It will make you smile. Trust me.
Evidence that Robert Mugabe rigged last year's presidential elections is hardly going to come as a shock to anyone. But it does help to know for sure, doesn't it?
Another sign of the way technology is transforming the war biz. Surely, if this is technically possible, it must also be possible to produce software that would let politicians see the effect of their funding cutbacks.
The BBC's trying to get out ahead of the report of the Hutton Enquiry, due to be made public sometime in January. This little reform is an easy one. Will they tackle some of the harder ones as well?
Smart big awards and prize money
Is killing off black poetry
It's not censors or dictators that are cutting up our art.
The lure of meeting royalty
And touching high society
Is damping creativity and eating at our heart.
Rasta poet Benjamin Zephaniah has gone public about why he refused the offer of an OBE a couple of weeks ago. It's an interesting glimpse of the differences between what you might call the New Britain, and the more traditional version.
26 November 2003
This may be the clearest-cut case of the pot calling the kettle black in history. And for it, Greg Dyke, Director-General of the BBC (who probably won't be in that job for very long after the Hutton Report is published in mid-January), gets a bit of a going-over in a nicely-worded Telegraph editorial.
Meantime, Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair's ex-director of strategy and communications, puts his finger on some of the things that drive the BBC (and others) as a news-gathering organisation.
"Gerard Dupuy, writing in Liberation on November 17, opens an editorial on the Turkish bombings with this stunning statement: 'In 2003, a person can be killed simply for being Jewish - in Istanbul, Jerba, and Casablanca.' He adds that anyone trying to explain the anti-Semitism, if not justify it, in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is making a moral mistake, because it is a murderous trend, rooted in Muslim society, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is just an excuse for it."
That's taken from an article in Haaretz this morning lamenting the fact that the intellectual left of Europe is now carrying a banner once held aloft by the fascist right.
The 7th Earl of Onslow, Michael William Coplestone Dillon Onslow has written what cries out to be described as a noble piece for the Guardian concerning the Labour Government's incomplete attempts to reform the House of Lords. Sample paragraphs:
"I will take any measure that I can think of, novel or traditional, to make sure that the house's future membership will be more legitimate. There will be no more place for a descendant of someone who got pissed with Pitt the Younger than for a man who once adorned the cabinet in the useless position of secretary of state for prices and consumer protection.
"If this government goes ahead with the removal of the last hereditaries without the implementation of stage two, as originally proclaimed in its 1997 manifesto, then both Mr Blair and the present lord chancellor will forcibly remind me of the description by Gibbon of the emperor Septimius Severus: 'He promised only to betray, he flattered only to ruin; and however he might occasionally bind himself by oaths and treaties, his conscience, obsequious to his interest, always released him from the inconvenient obligation.'"
A retired researcher with the Smithsonian Institution in Washington says the Vinland Map, branded a 20th Century forgery by a study done last year, is genuine after all, and probably was drawn 50 years before Christopher Columbus set sail. The document, which is owned by Yale University, includes text that suggests Leif Eiriksson, discovered North America around the year 1,000.
The joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, UNAIDS, has reported that one out of every five adults in southern Africa is infected with HIV, and that two cutries, Botswana and Swaziland, recorded an astounding infection rate of 39 percent of adults last year. That means that a record 3 million people will die this year from AIDS-related illnesses, 10 percent more than was estimated in 2002, according to the Boston Globe.
The Financial Times suggests a new wave of infection is threatening China, India, Indonesia and Russia.
25 November 2003
Forbes says that confusion and recrimination has erupted because euro-zone finance ministers effectively froze budget rules underpinning the euro by suspending disciplinary action against Germany and France, in defiance of the European Commission.
"The pact, which aims to prevent euro zone states from running budget deficits of more than three precent of their gross domestic product, was hammered out before the euro was launched in 1999. It is designed to limit government borrowing and protect the common currency's credibility.
"Small states complained that the rules were being bent by the big countries to protect Germany and France, which have long been the EU's central leadership axis."
You might think this is just another piece of the same old messy European political jigsaw puzzle, but Czech President Vaclav Klaus has a different take on it. He says Europeans are living in a "dream world" of welfare and long vacations and have yet to realize "they are not moving toward some sort of nirvana."
In this Washington Times interview, he said that the biggest problem for the Czech Republic "was to avoid falling into the trap of 'a new form of collectivism'. Asked whether he meant a new form of neo-Marxism, he said, 'Absolutely not, but I see other sectors endangering free societies.
"'The enemies of free societies today are those who want to burden us down again with layer upon layer of regulations,' Mr. Klaus said.
"'We had that in communist times. But now if you look at all the new rules and regulations of EU membership, layered bureaucracy is staging a comeback.'
The Times reminds us that the European Union's 30,000 bureaucrats have produced some 80,000 pages of regulations that the Czech Republic and the other applicants for EU membership have to adopt.
More on the bizarre Pitcairn Island sex scandal in Canada's National Post.
The vicar of a church in England has applied for permission to open a tomb that may, or may not, contain the remains of King Harold, who was killed by a well-placed arrow at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Simple curiosity seems to be his motive.
I can understand doing this kind of thing if it advances human knowledge significantly in some way that would otherwise not be possible. But to satisfy somebody's curiosity? Two other questions: How long must a body be buried before it's OK to dig it up and muck about with it? And what is the Church's role in protecting those who are buried within their precincts?
This report in the Times of India suggests Dell Computer is scaling back tech support calls to India because of complaints of thick accents and poor service.
Not so, says Dell...or is that what they're saying? Bizarre.
There has been a lot of coverage, and rightly so, about the EU-suppressed report on European anti-Semitism. The EU claims the report was tainted by anti-Muslim bias, and the use of inappropriate research techniques. But one of the leaders of the study has told Haaretz that he thought the report was buried because of a fear it might cause civil war, and because of an excess of political correctness.
"Together, industry, campaigners and scientists should now be focusing on how innovative technologies can affect, for the better, the many strands of the development of agriculture in the UK." This is a very well-reasoned, mature approach to the screaming row that is going on in Britain over genetically-modified crops. Lord May of Exford is the president of The Royal Society - the UK National Academy of Science - whose submissions to the Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment are being released today.
Sadly, reason probably isn't going to cut it in this brawl.
Michael Howard has certainly given back to the Conservative Party in Britain a sense that it is back in the game of politics. I'm sure this is a footling and politically incorrect point of view, but I think a lot of his success has to do with the fact that he looks the part. The last two looked like a couple of overgrown schoolboys...and the sort of schoolboy you'd want to bully, at that.
As far as I'm concerned, the Catholic Church made the worst mistake of its life back in the '60s, when they stopped giving services in Latin. The Church reduced itself from an organisation that had some majesty about it to being just another part of the scenery. Everything they've done since then is about as gripping as listening in on an Anglican Bishops' tea party.
Terry Teachout has a review in the Wall Street Journal this morning about what is probably the best stocking stuffer of them all this Christmas, Looney Tunes Golden Collection, a four-DVD set containing some of the best Warner Bros cartoons.
24 November 2003
Bloggers 2Blowhards put up an excellent post a couple of days ago about The Teaching Company, which sells recorded versions of college-level lectures. They'd make great Christmas presents, I think.
If you're even close to being as much of a space exploration nut as I am, this story will brighten your day.
This is no bad thing: Most Americans now have access to multiple information services and devices. The Internet, cable TV and cell phones are present in at least 60 percent of American homes, and digital video disc players and recorders have been adopted rapidly.
And because of this onslaught of new technologies, more traditional forms of entertainment, like television are becoming less important to many Americans. So I guess the smart Cable TV company is also in the Internet business.
Telegraph writer Barbara Amiel says "I think it was the great Islamic scholar Bernard Lewis who first had the notion, but Daniel Pipes coined the sentence: 'If the problem is militant Islam, the solution is moderate Islam.'
"This plain insight is a lesson often pointed out, but so far not learnt. Even if the West does learn it, that alone would not prevent what happened in Istanbul. It is Muslim societies that have to learn and genuinely understand that virtually all the suffering they have endured over the past 30 years has come from the home-grown extremists within. Western societies can only protect themselves against militant Islam. They cannot provide a remedy for it.
"The Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the poverty of Africa and the scourge of Aids are not the reasons for the bombings in Bali or the blowing up of churches by militant Islamists in Pakistan. The sufferings of the Middle East and Africa are not a flea in the ear of militant Islam."
Her column is here.
Somehow, I can't see that this is quite what Anita Loos had in mind.
This woman makes a fair point about the fuss that has surrounded Eminem's tactless lyrics about black girls.
"...In rap and R'n'B videos" says Helen Kolawole, "it is rare to see a black woman portrayed as anything other than a lap dancer - or what is colloquially known as the "video ho". So awash is MTV Base, the TV music channel dedicated to black music, with denigrating images of black women that it should really relaunch with a jauntier title. Perhaps MTV: Black Bitches, or Butts R Us."
If drugs are now al Qaeda's main source of income, what does that say about the progress of the war on terrorism? Quite a lot, I'd say. Pity they can't persaude Osama's lot to smoke their own product.
Turkey's learning that the price of democracy is sometimes very high, it seems. The head of Turkey's security forces in Baghdad says: "Because the media released the identity of the [first] terrorists, the perpetrators [of the second attacks] slipped through our hands in a matter of an hour. In the name of the freedom of the press, 27 people were to die."
There is concern that the incident will provide an excuse for the security services to crack down on civil liberties. That would be a disaster for those who hope democracy is going to put down roots in the Arab world. I guess it's the hardest thing in the world to grasp, that a free press, free even to make mistakes as terrible as this one might have been, is the very fulcrum of democracy.
"I'd rather be playing Led Zeppelin," says Gerry Jackson, 49, the founder of SW RAdio Africa. "But as Zimbabweans we have other responsibilities now."This is the flip side of the last post about the press in Turkey, showing how the media can keep the light of democracy shining despite creatures like Mugabe.
23 November 2003
The BBC's at it again.
Man! These guys take their cricket seriously.
"On the day we arrive in Jenin they are the only people, apart from small boys, on the streets. Not real men but ghostly figures, their eyes staring from every wall, haunting the absent living; suicide bombers, gunmen, killers, young men, some of them just boys, dressed up in guns, swaggering for the camera, vowing to defeat the overwhelming enemy before so willingly, or unwillingly, going to their own death."
This is the Palestinian intifada's bizarre and twisted contribution to art.
A fiendish Mormon scheme to buy up the names of dead Russians in order to baptise dead souls in their faith? Take the money and relax, Ivan.
Art in Bermuda
Bermuda's Cuban Connection
Death of the Nation State
Joe Wilson and Michael Moore
Linton Kwesi Johnson's Dub Poetry
Me and Evergreen Review
Michael Howard's Vision
Miss Lou and Jamaican Patois
More Doomsday Nonsense
Mullah Nasrudin's Lessons
New York Dogs
OECD's Unfair to Competition
On Charles Ives
On Colin MacInnes
On Collecting Books
On Collecting Books - Part Two
On Gambling in Bermuda
On Patrick Leigh Fermor
Race and Bermuda's Election
The Epic of Gilgamesh
The Gift of Slang
The Limits of Knowledge
The Nature of Intelligence
The Shared European Dream
The US Supreme Court's First Terrorism Decisions
Yukio Mishima's Death
Contact the Pondblogger
About Last Night
Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise
Arts and Letters Daily
Aworks :: "new" american classical music
Cup of Chicha
Day by Day by Chris Muir
Little Green Footballs
Michael J Totten
Reflections in d minor
Roger L Simon
Talking Points Memo
The Volokh Conspiracy
A Bermuda Blog
A Limey in Bermuda
Politics.bm: A Mostly Bermuda Weblog
The Bermuda Sun
The Mid-Ocean News
The Royal Gazette
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