...Views from mid-Atlantic
17 January 2004

Al-Jazeera's editor has been given a job at the BBC? Satirists everywhere have been put firmly in their places by reality, once again.

The President of the International Criminal Court, which the United States, China and other nations have declined to play a part in, seems to be trying to play down fears that the organisation will fall hostage to every nutcase on the planet with a grievance, real or imagined, as Brussels allowed itself to be. Of 700 complaints lodged with the court since its formal opening for business in the middle of last year, the ICC has declined to investigate all but one.

What concerned the dissenters, though, was what the court was capable of doing, not what it was likely to do. The ICC's charter is written in the kind of language which, by its vagueness, will allow the Court to pay attention to a much broader range of issues than might at first have seemed logical.

Among the specific problems is the fact that the ICC claims jurisdiction over citizens, not only of states that ratified the Rome Treaty, but also, in some circumstances, of states that want nothing to do with it. This is a new and deeply troubling concept in international affairs, the basis of which has always, in the past, been consent to any waiving of national sovereignty.

People who are not familar with Britain probably haven't been exposed to the sometimes keen pleasure of reading the Guardian's urbane, witty, cynical Smallweed column. This week's is a particularly fine example.

"The suggestion by an Oxford professor," Smallweed says, "that lust should be struck from the list of the seven deadly sins came as a huge surprise. I had thought that nowadays there were only six left in the charts, following the deletion of greed. The memory of the Thatcher years if fading now, but I seem to remember that greed, one of the founding seven, was officially sanctified then, and renamed incentive."

It's the smell of a particularly British brand of napalm in the morning.

I can't help putting the refusal of European airlines to go along with a plan to put armed marshals on their aircraft down to the prejudice against Americans in Europe as gun-happy cowboys. The knowledge that there might be an armed, trained marshal aboard a flight must inevitably give a terrorist second thoughts about trying to interfere with it...I can't see another way of thinking about that. Isn't that a good thing? Yes, there might be some command and control difficulties to be worked out, but I can't think they justify the kind of vehemence with which the idea is being rejected by some.

The British Defence Minister, Geoff Hoon, has acknowledged that he may have to resign as a result of two currently-developing scandals. The first concerns the part he played in the outing of Dr David Kelly, source of the BBC's "sexed-up" Iraq dossier claim. The second concerns equipment shortages that led to members of the British Army being killed or maimed in Iraq. I've said before that the person most responsible for David Kelly's plight was David Kelly himself. Being named was an inevitable outcome, perhaps not of making the claim to the BBC, but of admitting to the Ministry of Defence that he was Andrew Gilligan's source. Geoff Hoon simply played the hand fate dealt him, and the way he played it made no essential difference to the outcome. As far as the equipment shortages are concerned, though, the buck belongs on his desk, and there is no question that the error was grievous enough to cost him his job. It should claim other jobs as well.

Now that he seems to have accepted his fate as inevitable, though, Hoon has begun to say things in relation to Kelly's outing that no British politician has dared say before.

Cyberpunk writer William Gibson says that American politics might just have become so grotesque and peculiar that it has become part of his territory. I think Gibson's the best of a very small handful of good writers working in science fiction at the moment, and one of an only slightly larger handful of living authors (in all fields) whose books I collect. He coined the word "cyberspace" in his first novel, Neuromancer, 20 years ago. My memory is, though, that he didn't start using a computer until much more recently. In this article, he mentions a Japanese author I hadn't read before, Haruki Murakami - I'll see to correcting that omission quickly.

16 January 2004

This is a pleasant and interesting little speculation on the significance to the music world of the composer John Cage. It's also interesting for the comment by one artist, asked to add his opinion to the mix, to the effect that "I want what I want to say to go without saying." I can't decide whether he should get a prize for the most Zen-like saying since the sound of one hand clapping, or a kick in the arse for being a silly prat. Opinions welcome.

OK, the flesh of some farmed salmon have been found to contain very high levels of PCBs. But as a toxicologist at the prestigious Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute points out, it is far from certain if higher levels of PCBs mean an increased risk of cancer. PCBs have not been shown to cause cancer in humans, and in animals, some non-carcinogenic PCBs have been shown to block other carcinogenic PCBs. "No one is really sure how important these interactions are in the real world," said Mark Hahn of Woods Hole. Even the Science study which raised the alarm acknowledged, "The potential risks to human health remain unclear." It is a problem that needs sorting out one way or another, because fish farming is very quickly going to have to bear the weight of supplying the world with most of the fish it consumes.

Trying to figure out how much damage has been caused to al Qaeda by the war on terror must occupy the time of an army of intelligence people around the world. The Washington Times talked to a number of them to prepare this report, which speaks comfortingly of the group having the air of Hitler in his bunker at the end of World War II, as a former counterterrorism official put it.

"They are trying to use the invasion of Iraq like they used the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan [to recruit], but it doesn't appear they're having great success," he said, noting that al Qaeda attacks in areas with large Islamic populations — Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iraq — have cost the group important local support.

The French Defence Minister, Michele Alliot-Marie, is in Washington to try to mend the military part of France's tattered relations with the United States. "It's true that we had a disagreement with the United States over Iraq," she said in written answers to questions submitted by the Washington Post. Referring to the invasion, she said: "We sincerely thought that it was not the best way. But that represents such a tiny part of our overall relationship. It is really a pity that it caused some people to overlook the important military actions we conduct side-by-side to fight such blights as terrorism or drug-trafficking, to restore peace or reinforce stability."

The opening trickle in what will soon be a flood? Bet on it.

This Telegraph editorial speaks for itself very well, and shows the extent to which reasonable people can be turned into fools by the need to be politically correct.

The contrast between American and British attitudes to immigrants in striking, and seems only partially explained by the relative sizes of the two countries. Theodore Dalrymple, a writer and doctor who has feet in both countries, chides his countrymen in this Telegraph article for treating immigrants as if they were parasites.

The number of British parasites, such as the falsely sick, he says, dwarfs the number of immigrants, but the locally-grown problem flies right under the radar: "The signing of false sick notes satisfies three parties: the signer, the signee and the Government; the first because it gets the patient out of the room without a scene, the second because he doesn't have to work at a job that he probably dislikes, and the Government, which can thereby falsify its unemployment statistics. A sick man is not unemployed, after all; he's on incapacity benefit.

"The number of the supposedly sick dwarfs the number of illegal immigrants and asylum seekers. The costs involved are enormous. But the sick, or un-sick, are natives, you will say, not uninvited aliens. They therefore have a right to parasitise the rest of us. That, apparently, is what being a British subject means."

Mind you, if you want to experience a seriously unpleasant attitude towards foreigners, come to Bermuda, where they are treated as if they were the undead - an army of walking corpses, disembodied spirits, damned mortal men and insidious extra-dimensional entities, as I think they say in the world of computer games.

Britain's Press Complaints Comission must be a little bit of a mystery to other democracies, in which freedom of the press is paramount. There's a review of the rules going on at the moment, but there's no call in Britain for the Commission to be disbanded.

Newspapers there behave so often like this that it'll be a cold day before that possibility raises its head much above the parapet. For some Brits, journalism is a disease as much as it is a profession.

15 January 2004

I didn't think it would be long before a serious challenge was mounted to the authenticity of that claim that a million and a quarter species of life on earth would be wiped out by the effects of global warming over the next few years.

Patrick J. Michaels, senior fellow in environmental studies at the Cato Institute, delivers a pretty thorough drubbing in the Washington Times this morning - "What is surprising is that something with so many inconsistencies and unrealistic assumptions made it unscathed through the review process in such a prestigious journal as Nature. The politicization of scientific papers on global warming and the tendency of science journals to rush to judgment have to end."

What is sad is that people will, as they always do, remember the irresponsible scare story, and pay little attention to the responsible correction.

The Washington Times also makes some nicely pointed remarks this morning about former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill's Bush-bashing efforts. The breathless revelation "that the president was disengaged at Cabinet meetings - like 'a blind man in a roomful of deaf people' reinforces the old stereotype that George W. Bush is a taco or two shy of a combination platter. And, in a way, the charge is warranted. Mr. Bush definitely must have been asleep on the job to have hired a whiny back-stabber like the former Alcoa chief as his Treasury secretary and have waited two whole years before canning him."

Progress sometimes marches in China in funny little steps, like a woman with bound feet, perhaps. Apparently, women there have only had access to bras during the last ten years or so. And when she saw one for the first time, Sun Yianxiang reacted more or less as Columbus did when he first saw the New World:

"I'd never seen anything like it before," she said. "I thought it had to be the most beautiful thing in the world. I just had to buy it." Or seize it...something like that.

Filmmaker Vikram Jayanti thinks IBM was so desperate for Deep Blue to defeat Garry Kasparov that they somehow stacked the deck. In Game Over: Kasparov and the Machine, he doesn't exactly accuse IBM of cheating, but he says that for them, losing wasn't an option.

"If you are a conspiracy theorist, the circumstantial pointers all add up to the fact that something fishy went on," he says. Back in the mid-1990s, IBM was on the ropes; after the chess game, its share price rocketed. "Some brilliant person at IBM thought that if we can take on Kasparov in a great symbolic challenge and if we can beat him, that will produce untold benefits to the company. That was a brilliant corporate decision."

They're at it again in the Anglican Church. British Bishops are busying themselves berating conservative clerics for "trying to take over the evangelical wing of the Church of England.

Meantime, over in the US, rebellious parishes are being told to prepare for the ultimate goal of breaking up the US Episcopal Church, which is the American equivalent of the Church of England.

The Guardian thinks it may all be about sex. I don't think I can entirely swallow that.

The Catholic Church may have its problems, but at least it understands that, like all uniformed services, it can only be run properly as a well-disciplined organisation, from the top down. Democracy's for politics, not for religion.

If they don't hoist that on board...well, this might have some applicability.

The Japanese company that gave the world devices to translate your dog's bow-wowing and your cat's meowing now says it has come up with a machine that will allow you to dial up your dream of choice. Wake me up when I can impose nightmares on my enemies.

Worldwide cultivation of plant biotech crops grew by 15% in 2003, the seventh consecutive year of double-digit growth, according to a new report by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications, a group sponsored by various government agencies and industries. More than 67 million hectares of the crops are now planted across the globe.

"Farmers have made up their minds," said ISAAA Chairman and Founder Clive James, speaking at the release of the report. Farmers "continue to rapidly adopt biotech crops because of significant agronomic, economic, environmental, and social advantages."

So science is convinced that GM crops are a good thing, and farmers around the world agree. Britain's trying to stay up there with the rest of them, but European Britain is, after all, world Luddite HQ.

A microscope so sensitive it needs a special building to protect it from the vibrations of raindrops? Wired News says the resolution of the SuperSTEM microscope in England is so sharp that researchers can count the atoms on an image. It's being used to study the interface of human tissue and nanoparticles.

"Naturally occurring particles have been around a long time, and we seem to be pretty well-adapted to them," says the co-organiser of a conference about such things, Dr Vyvyan Howard. "But when you take a bulk material and make it nano, it changes its physical and chemical properties. That's what makes it attractive to people developing these new materials. But we have to find out if its toxicology changes. Companies have a duty of care to study what impact these novel particles will have on human health."

Thanks to Hamish for the tip.

14 January 2004

Aljazeera's outdone itself this morning with a story, admittedly in a section of its website marked Conspiracy Theories, that asks whether British Intelligence killed Princess Diana. The motive? Either she was a threat to the throne, or she was about to convert to Islam - take your pick. Trevor Rees Jones, they say, might have been an MI5 or MI6 agent. There's a little online poll at the end of the story that invites you to say whether you believe the story or you think it's a crock. But they won't show you the results if you vote, the fiends.

Mark Steyn fires some pretty powerful and, as always, amusing kicks at one or two of those involved in the fuss over Robert Kilroy-Silk's now notorious Arab-bashing newspaper column. I'm not 100% with him on this - it is over the top to blame every Arab in the world for the crimes of radical Islamists. No amount of reason or bluster gets you out from underneath that.

However, a Steyn broadside is always a pleasure to read, no matter what sets it off. I'm just a little sorry that he didn't have the benefit of seeing this oily and self-serving nonsense from the BBC before he wrote his column. He might have had an entertaining comment or three.

Just as I was getting comfortable with the idea that the failure of the British Beagle 2 spacecraft had actually served some purpose, here comes another writer in the same publication who says it didn't, and furthermore, the head of the British space effort is a dangerous loony:

"Dr. Colin Pillinger," writes Jeffrey F Bell, "the chief scientist and head promoter of Beagle 2, has a double inheritance of eccentricity. First he is from Britain, the world capital of eccentric behavior. Where else can one find a society promoting the proposition that the historic city of Jerusalem was really Edinburgh? Where else could people publish a scholarly journal devoted to identifying Jack the Ripper? Where else could a rustic town like Stratford-upon-Avon develop the delusion that their native son Shakespeare wrote the greatest body of literature in the English language? Even California can't compete with this kind of dottiness."

During the week before Saddam Hussein was captured, the actor Sean Penn went back to Iraq to see what had changed since his first, rather controversial visit just before the invasion. He has written about his journey for the San Francisco Chronicle. It's a must-read, obviously. I was surprised by the maturity of his voice, but he's no reporter, and his journey seemed rather aimless.

The British, who know a thing or two about teapots, have always criticised Americans for taking things too far. I'm afraid this story in the LA Times (you'll need to register to read it) is going to send them into paroxysms of choking disbelief. It's one woman's story of her search for the perfect teapot, written without a trace of selfconsciousness.

"I found several glass teapots with glass infusers, but that seemed like asking for trouble on a bleary-eyed morning. I've chipped too many porcelain pots to be comfortable with the idea of glass shards in my first cup of the day.

"Instead, a tea press I had come across in more pretentious restaurants here and overseas and rediscovered online solved two problems. Like the classic French press for coffee, the Dimbula pot consists of a Pyrex pitcher in a casing with a handle, with a plunger for forcing water through leaves. I could instantly see how the tea was progressing, and the plunger kept the leaves out of the way until the pot was drained. It even looked cool, although I was able to order it only in "gold" rather than more kitchen-compatible chrome."

The Martian day is 39.5 minutes longer than ours on Earth. That's causing a certain amount of havoc among the scientists and engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. (You'll need to have registered with the LA Times to read this story, as well.)

Astrologers in India have already given their verdict: Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee is bound to win a second five-year term in office. But Sonia Gandhi, they say, will never rule India.

It is astonishing what passes for progress in some places. But progress there has been in Afghanistan, where for the first time in more than a decade a woman has been shown singing on Afghan television. The video, according to this story, was old and the song was well-known, but the sight of the pop star Salma - clad in a red dress and sporting a headscarf - has sparked a wave of excitement and, no surprise, a backlash of conservatism.

This short, but charming review of a musical based on the life of the Argentinian football legend, Diego Maradona, has been taken from Argentina's biggest-selling daily paper.

"In the end, Diego stole the attention of everybody in the audience (including the Argentine singer Piero, the football coach Orestes Katorosz, footballers the Enrique brothers, and the astrologist Ashira); who rose to give the play a standing ovation, as if it had been another masterpiece by the real Diego, the flesh and blood Diego, the one who taught us the meaning of joy."

An Italian senator is suing Dario Fo, the Nobel prize-winning playwright, for damaging his honour in a satirical play. The Two-headed Anomaly, his lawyer said, "is not satire. This is persecution. Satire is meant to make people laugh about real facts. But Dario Fo is giving false information. He is careless. It has damaged my client's honour."

Some places in the world don't have to rely on people like Dario Fo for their biting satire, though. In Kenya, for example, leaders are given to satirising themselves. Do a better job than Fo could ever dream of doing, too.

British forces in Iraq were apparently sent in without vital equipment because the government was afraid to upset Labour MPs opposed to the war, according to this story in the Guardian. That's certainly about the most footling excuse ever devised, but it is also beside the point. If you expect an army to fight for you, you must keep it in tools always, not just when there's a war on. There's no fudging that...not without being criminally careless of people's lives, anyway.

The most important science story of 2003? This Toronto Globe and Mail columnist thinks it was one about something that didn't happen.

An old-fashioned publisher who likes and respects his authors? And who also shows a profit? "I think it's easier now to sell good literary fiction in greater numbers than it ever has been," says Grove/Atlantic's head, Morgan Entrekin. "At one moment, Arthur Golden's first novel, 'Memoirs of a Geisha,' Arundhati Roy's 'The God of Small Things,' and Frazier's 'Cold Mountain,' all were on The New York Times bestseller list. In my 25 years of being in the business, I cannot recall a moment when three literary first novels were all on the bestseller list at the same time."

Finally, I cannot resist the temptation to do something my Scots puritan ancestors would be horrified by. I boast...yes, dammit, boast...this morning that I have been linked by the good folk at 2blowhards.com, which is one of the best and most respected blogs on the Internet. The Michael half of the Blowhards team, who describes himself as "media flunky and arts buff" said of this site: "I only recently discovered Gavin Shorto's Pondblog...but it's already become a regular stop. Gavin's a Bermudian journalist whose blogging focus is on world news, but -- call me superficial -- what I enjoy most about visiting Pondblog is Gavin's mind (incisive) and his writing (elegant and calm). I marvel, admire, and try to learn."

Who can be calm about that? I'm going to lose a little weight, maybe take some tango lessons...

13 January 2004

Sorry, posting will not be possible today because of computer problems. Back tomorrow, hopefully - Pondblogger.

12 January 2004

Nathalie Cabrol is a geologist involved with the Mars Rover mission. In this interview in Astrobiology Magazine, she talks about some of the discoveries she thinks scientists are going to make in the next few weeks. For instance, why are those rocks we can see so smooth and rounded and evenly distributed? There are two processes that can lead to very round things, she says - wind and water.

"On Mars, anything that is larger than 4 millimeters will have a hard time being transported by wind. It will be extremely important to see the shape of small particles to test the hypothesis of water.

"We are not seeing, in this landscape, big rocks on top of each other. So whatever put these rocks there, if it was some type of flow - and this still has to be determined - wouldn't be a high-energy outflow (e.g., a flood). If it was a flow, it would be a low-energy flow."

Is a talent for art developed as humans evolve, or something that is innate to humans?The Washington Post reports that more and more, the evidence tilts in favour of art as a skill that has been in us from the start.

Nicholas Basbanes writes about books so well I'd read absolutely anything he produced. In this LA Times piece he talks about Biblioclasm, which the Oxford English Dictionary defines as the deliberate destruction of books, a cultural offense of the first magnitude.

And in a story related to Basbane's, the author of a book that caused a biblioclastic mob in India to ransack a library there a few days ago explains what he was on about, and what they were on about. In the process, you get to learn a little about Shivaji, the legendary 17th Century Hindu King who is so revered by Hindus.

Senegal's fishermen aren't known to be dainty about the way they catch fish, but EU trawlers are going them one better by vacuuming the sea clean. Money from their contracts with the Senegalese government doesn't seem to be doing the country a lot of good. As the World Wildlife Fund spokesman says, there's blame enough for everyone in this disaster.

Saul Rosenberg of the Jerusalem Post counts Proust's A La Recherche du Temps Perdu as one of the greatest of all novels. Don't be intimidated, he begs readers, dip into it and allow yourself to feel, as Keats did when he read Homer, "...like some watcher of the skies / When a new planet swims into his ken." This is a review written by someone who, revering his subject, puts it across by stalking his reader as a hunter might stalk a lion.

The Palestinian Authority is demanding that journalists who work for Arab TV stations refrain from voicing any criticism of the PA in their reporting. In case one journalist hadn't got the message, five gunmen intercepted his car, dragged him out of it and beat him with rifle butts for ten minutes. They were unhappy, they explained, with his coverage of celebrations in the Gaza Strip marking the 39th anniversary of the founding of Fatah.

In the midst of an anguished debate in France over racial and religious integration, the footballer Zinedine Zidane has topped a national popularity poll and a Muslim will be appointed this week to an elite government post. This is an old song with new lyrics.

At first, Jean-Bertrand Aristide moved in the right direction: street drug trafficking in Haiti dropped, he brought the looting of the treasury under control, raised the minimum wage and cut bureaucracy by 20%. But a decade later, it was Aristide's thugs who beat up pro-democracy demonstrators on the streets and Aristide's government that was accused of corruption. Aristide himself, they now call the Mugabe of the Caribbean. I'm not sure I buy this lady's glib little theory that society is to blame, but she's right to wonder what on earth it is about Haiti that so provokes the dictator in people.

The Swiss architects Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron became famous in architectural circles "on the back of severe buildings such as the glassy Goetz Gallery in Munich, Germany (completed in 1992, and which Herzog still describes as the practice's best building) and the Ricola Factory building in Switzerland (1991)," says the Guardian. With their new project, the Olympic Stadium that is to form the centrepiece of the Beijing Olympics in 2008, "Herzog's designs move away from the geometric rigour of the practice's early work, but he doesn't think we should be surprised. 'Some people, especially in England, put us in this drawer of minimalism and the right angle,' he says. 'But if they didn't put us in the drawer they would see that there is a culture to what we do, and we are very radical in the way we present it. Radical rectangle, radical minimalism, radical something else. We try to push things to their boundaries.'"

The elder bother of one of the British detainees at Guantanamo Bay is complaining that the guards are racially abusing inmates. Calling them names like camel-rider and raghead, he says, is blatantly racist and Islamophobic. Amnesty International says that such abuse would be "totally unacceptable and alarming." In all the history of human conflict, has so much ever before been made of so little?

This Toronto Globe and Mail op ed writer, the CEO of the Royal Ontario Museum, writes about the banality, not of evil, but of good manners. The problem with the Ground Zero memorial proposals in New York, he thinks, is their surfeit of reverence.

11 January 2004

Clifford D. May, who was a New York Times foreign correspondent and is now president of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a policy institute focusing on terrorism, starts his Washington Times commentary today with this assertion: " It takes some nerve to scold people for defending their children from terrorists - the more so when their method of defense is simply to erect a fence to keep the murderers from reaching their intended victims. "

There are many things in his piece that I do agree with, but that isn't one of them. Israel's fence isn't simply a fence and never has been. It became a hated symbol of the viciousness and stupidity of the Middle East dispute the moment the first scrap of it was erected. That the Israelis should be responsible for that symbol harms their cause, and will continue to do them harm as long as they let it stand.

Col Tim Collins, the British Army officer who delivered an eloquent, rousing (and much-quoted) pep talk to his battalion on the eve of the Iraq war, seems to have become disillusioned with the army, and now wants to resign. It wouldn't do for a serving army officer to make statements to the press, but his wife has told journalists that "Tim is worried that the Army is being crippled by political correctness, petty bureaucracy and the refusal of politicians who send soldiers to war to give them enough money to do their job. Tim is no longer convinced that the Army reflects the country with the fourth largest economy in the world. He fears it has become a cottage industry."

All of that is correct, and it is instructive, perhaps, to be given an excuse to reflect on its correctness. But the truth of the matter is that it has been correct, not just since the Iraq war, but for a very long time. I suspect Col Collins' fellow British Army officers will think, as I do, that this is all a bit of an excuse to capitalise on his new-found fame.

A report by a team of three Observer reporters has been published today in Britain, giving details of a widening network of Islamic militants in Europe, bent on opening a new terror battleground there.

"Investigators stress," the report claims, "that most of the European cells are autonomous, coming together on an ad hoc basis to complete specific tasks. To describe them as 'al-Qaeda' is simplistic. Instead, sources say, the man most of these new Islamic terror networks look to for direction is Abu Musab Zarqawi, a Jordanian Islamic militant who some analysts believe was behind the recent Istanbul suicide bombings against British targets and synagogues. Though he follows a similar agenda to Osama bin Laden, the 37-year-old Zarqawi has always maintained his independence from the Saudi-born fugitive. Last week, his developing stature in global Islamic militancy was reinforced when he issued his first-ever public statement, an audiotape calling on God to 'kill the Arab and the foreign tyrants, one after another.'"

Ian Buruma reflects on the divide between Europe and the United States in this article in the Financial Times. Buruma, born in the Netherlands, based in London, was a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Institute for the Humanities in Washington, and is now the Luce Professor of democracy, human rights & journalism at Bard College in New York. He is a frequent contributor to The New York Review of Books, and writes regularly for publications such as the New York Times Magazine, the New Republic and the New Yorker. In other words, he is a European intellectual who is thoroughly familiar with the United States.

That makes it easy to be surprised and irritated by the tone of this article, which seems condescending...amused by the differences and detached from them, offering not a scrap of useful information to either side about the other.

He says, of George Bush: "He is the most populist president since Ronald Reagan. His brand of swaggering, tax-slashing, gun-loving, bible-bashing zeal is no doubt irritating, especially to intellectuals who feel marginalised by it, and perhaps even dangerous, but it is not fascistic, as some Europeans claim. That is simply to apply the history of European populism to America, which is not a very good fit."

As for the Europeans, he says the real reason they don't like the Americans is their adolescent mentality - "The price of permanent adolescence, however, is permanent hostility, which is fine for intellectual conferences but bad for everyone else."

This would be facile stuff if it came from a college student, but from a man who seems to expect to be taken seriously on both sides of the Atlantic, it's a bit of a unpleasant shock.


Art in Bermuda
Bermuda's Cuban Connection
Death of the Nation State
Helen Lives!
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 Catullus
On Charles Ives
On Colin MacInnes
On Collecting Books
On Collecting Books - Part Two
On Gambling in Bermuda
On Napoleon
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
Useful Yiddish
Yukio Mishima's Death

Article Archive

2003 Index


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