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Tuesday: March 24, 2009
Belmont Club links to a London Times story about the top ‘green’ adviser of Gordon Brown who wants to cut the population of the U.K. in half. He quotes a comment on the Times story which spells out some implications: “Just in case no one noticed, the article did not say that ‘slowing growth’ was necessary. It said that ‘cutting the population’ was the necessity. So I ask this: Who goes and who decides? Is emigration an option, or is a more permanent solution to be recommended?”
As I write, 62 comments have appeared on the Belmont Club story, but none asks the obvious follow-up question: Wouldn’t a more concise synonym for “more permanent solution” be “final solution”? I don’t know whether “Bill, San Francisco, USA”, the author of the phrase, slipped in the historical allusion consciously or unconsciously, but it seems thoroughly appropriate. If he meant to make the insinuation I have spelled out here, but wrote it Aesopically to avoid censorship, all I can say is: “Message received. Well done.”
Saturday: March 21, 2009
An incompetent small-town Australian police chief (Royle) visits the lodgings of a headmaster suspected of murder (Doncaster):
“It was a gentleman-scholar’s room: photographs of cricket teams, school groups, and a smart army photograph with a rather artificially grim expression. On the wall a college shield, and a cricket bat signed by one of the school’s dimmest past students, who had gone on to play for the state and become a Country Party politician. The bookshelves were full of books, old, dirty, and looking very thumbed. Royle idly wondered whether the thumbs that had thumbed them had been Doncaster’s thumbs, or if they had been picked up cheap in a second-hand bookshop. He’d never actually seen Doncaster reading, and unless he actually saw people reading, Royle was inclined to suspect that they never did, since he had no time whatsoever for the occupation himself.”
(Robert Barnard, Death of an Old Goat, 1979, XI)
Friday: March 20, 2009
I don’t expect anyone except John Weidner and Orrin Judd to agree with me, but I want to put this on record, so I can gloat if it comes true:
If President Obama does not pull himself together and start acting like a president very soon — and I doubt that he is capable of it — retroactive admiration for the decency and (relative) competence of George W. Bush may spread so far and fast that Jeb Bush will have a real chance to be nominated and elected president in 2012. In what will surely be a crowded field, I would not put his chances of winning the nomination higher than 5% or 6%, but that’s up from .001% in 2008, when it would have taken a meteor shower wiping out all the other candidates to outweigh pandemic Bush fatigue. I do think that whoever wins the Republican nomination in 2012 has at least a 75% chance of winning the election, and that Bush fatigue and even Bush hatred may (note: may) melt away, leaving only a slight, though extraordinarily foul, odor, like a very small piece of Limburger, or the spot on the road where a dead skunk lay before the highway department or a helpful vulture dragged it away.
Thursday: March 19, 2009
“I had made the discovery that if you put people in a comic light they became more likable — if you spoke of someone as a gross, belching, wall-eyed human pike you got along much better with him thereafter, partly because you were aware that you were the sadist who took away his human attributes. Also, having done him some metaphorical violence, you owed him special consideration.”
(Saul Bellow, Ravelstein, p. 152)
The text puts the comma before ‘thereafter’, but that can’t be right, can it?
Wednesday: March 18, 2009
“. . . a thought-murder a day keeps the psychiatrist away.”
(Saul Bellow, Ravelstein, p. 95)
Inelegantly expressed, but the thought is interesting.
Tuesday: March 17, 2009
When Orson Welles was filming Macbeth, Othello, and Chimes at Midnight, did the crew call him Horson Welles? Behind his back, or to his face, it would have been a thoroughly Shakespearian pun.
Monday: March 16, 2009
For International Eat an Animal to Annoy PETA Day yesterday, and because it was my birthday, I had shrimp and grits for lunch (a surprisingly tasty combination), batter-fried squid and two kinds of pork for dinner — pork tenderloin with a side dish of slivers of spinach, onions, and potato mixed with shreds of bacon. Very tasty. I would have had fish with my lunch as well, but the waitress brought the wrong salad and I had already eaten half of it before I noticed there weren’t any white anchovies in it. If there were a Korean restaurant in town, I could have had mollusc, crustacean, fish, bird, and two or three species of mammal all in one meal, but I had to make do with non-ethnic restaurants. The pork tenderloin came in a red-wine sauce, so the meal was offensive to Islamists as well as vegetarians — offensive in two or three different ways, in fact, depending on whether you count the two kinds of pork separately.
Sunday: March 15, 2009
“You never do the safe thing if there’s a risky alternative. You’re what people would call feckless, in the days when such words were still in use.”
(Saul Bellow, Ravelstein, p. 43)
Those were presumably the days when copy editors and proofreaders (proof readers?) would not allow a book to be published with “put me onto the Keynes essay” on page 7 and “put me on to Keynes’s paper” on page 8.
Someone has taken genuine Russian ‘lolcats’ and ‘translated’ their captions to mock the late and unlamented Soviet Union and a few other aspects of Russian culture (þ Pootergeek). Some Russians are apparently offended.
What’s it like living in one of the hillier parts of the Shenandoah Valley? Like living in a Grandma Moses painting, but with slightly duller colors and much better perspective. I really like driving past cows on the way to work, and having mountains on the horizon all day.
A boy, an ungrown child, in seven years puts forth
a line of teeth and loses them again;
but when another seven God has made complete,
the first signs of maturity appear.
In the third hebdomad he’s growing yet, his chin
is fuzzy, and his skin is changing hue,
while in the fourth one, each achieves his peak of strength,
the thing that settles whether men are men.
The fifth is time a man should think of being wed
and look for sons to carry on his line;
and by the sixth he’s altogether sensible,
no more disposed to acts of fecklessness.
With seven hebdomads and eight — fourteen more years –
wisdom and eloquence are at their peak,
while in the ninth, though he’s still capable, his tongue
and expertise have lost some of their force.
Should he complete the tenth and reach the measured line,
not before time he’d have his due of death.
(Solon, Fr. 27, tr. M. L. West)
Monday: March 2, 2009
Mickey Kaus titles a post on card check ‘Et Tu, Baucus’. Modern names with Latinate endings are rare, and I’m disappointed that he didn’t make it Et Tu, Bauce: that would be the appropriate vocative singular form of Baucus if it were a Latin name. I suppose that would have confused too many of his readers in this Latinless age.