Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Swapping Twenty Prisoners For a Video-Tape

To its credit, Israel values its soldiers very highly, perhaps ostentatiously so, to the point that the moral calculus of its prisoner swaps with its enemies can sometimes be quite baffling.

Heteronormativity Is Hot Right Now

It's that special time of year when the harvest is in the fields, the leaves become awash with color, and graduate students have to declare their "interests."

Living Your Art

The Broadway cast of 'Hair' cancels one of their performances to travel to DC (in a bus paid for by Neil Patrick Harris) and march for gay rights.

Can't Wait For The Next Dan Brown Blockbuster?

Slate presents the Dan Brown sequel generator.

Stiletto Stoners

The female face of pot smoking. Hmmm, Judd Apatow meets Sex in the City... I'm thinking reality show here...

Insta-Book Machine

It's called the Espresso... but there's a contest to give it a new name. (The Updike? Asimov? Simenon?)

UPDATE: "Paige M. Gutenborg."

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

'Free Roman' Petition Gains Traction in Hollywood

Do you really want Woody Allen as your character witness in a child sex case?

Be Careful What You Wish For

Charles Blow looks at the rebounding support for health care reform and says maybe "the Democrats could do themselves a favor by heeding the Republicans’ pleas to slow down."

Madoff of Latin America

Did Allen Stanford's Ponzi scheme specifically target Jews?

An Orchard Invisible

A Natural History of Seeds. Book rec of the day.

What If He Were 'Father Polanski'?


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Gmar Chatimah Tovah

I don't care much for religious observance, but it is a delight to see this: the streets of Tel Aviv taken over by bicycles on Yom Kippur. Reminds me a bit of the brief but charming afterlife of a New England snowstorm.

Safire's "Rules for Writers"

From the NYT obit:

Remember to never split an infinitive. Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixing metaphors. Proofread carefully to see if you words out. Avoid clichés like the plague. And don’t overuse exclamation marks!!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Actually, Don't Free Mumia

Dana Stevens:

If you already dislike Michael Moore, "Capitalism: A Love Story" (Overture Films), his latest documentary/provocation/performance-piece/decoupage project isn't likely to win you over. And if you love him without reservations, this movie has nothing to tell you that you haven't already shouted through a bullhorn at a "Free Mumia" rally.

What's funny about this is that Michael Moore has been very clear in saying that he thinks Mumia is guilty and that it is a losing issue for the left.

Favoring a Public Option for Property But Not For People

GOP happily favors "public option" for hurricane insurance.

Crocs = Not Kosher

Religious authority declares Crocs inappropriate for Yom Kippur. (Soon to be posted, no doubt, to the "I Dont Care How Comfortable Crocs Are, You Look Like A Dumbass" facebook group.)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Palin's Foreign Policy

I suspect Ben Smith will be pelted with blogospheric slings and arrows for the bamboozlement of referring to Sarah Palin's foreign policy as "internationalism." In fact it is merely neoconservative orthodoxy. One could call it "neoconservative internationalism," to distinguish it from (to use Walter McDougall's terms) "progressive imperialism," "liberal internationalism," "global meliorism," etc., but to simply call it "internationalism," full stop, is misleading at best and at worst completely obfuscatory.

Chuck Norris Advocates Flag Desecration

Nothing says patriotism like a tea-stained flag.

Should Be More of a Scandal


Because Everyone Knows How Much Teddy Loved Quiet, Centrist, Wishy-Washy Wilting Lilies

Final BoGlo graf on Kirk's appointment: "Some Kennedy insiders who support Kirk's appointment, though, have argued that Dukakis is too outspoken on health care issues, espousing liberal positions that could complicate Democrats' attempts in Washington to moderate their approach on the legislation." WTF?

Paterson Hints?

David Kurtz thinks maybe Paterson sees the handwriting on the wall (okay, poorly chosen cliche).

From The MerryPundit Archives...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

King of the Literary World


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Hizzoner's Hypocrisy?

NYT impishly looks at nanny Bloomberg's less-than-entirely-wholesome eating habits. His major weakness seems to be salt. (Salt on pizza? That's a little scary.)

Paterson, Obama, Sharpton

Ta-Nehisi Coates thinks Al Sharpton is trying to be a 'team player' by playing along with the White House... and concludes that "Sharpton has retrofitted himself for the Obama era."

Annals of Turncoatism


So Bad That It's... Really Bad

Is (potential California senate candidate) Carly Fiorina's campaign website the worst political website ever?

Don't Do It, Boris!

Seems to me that Boris Johnson's tenure as London mayor has thus far been a qualified success (he has certainly benefited from low expectations)... but I could never forgive him for taking away free museums. A society can be judged in part by the number of free libraries and museums it supports. The practice in Italy of charging an arm and a leg for admission not only to museums but also to churches and cathedrals may be a necessary evil but it is tawdry and a burden on national pride, whereas the free-admission Smithsonian, British Museum, National Gallery, Tate Modern and so on make one proud to be a member of the "English-speaking peoples." And then there are geopolitical considerations. After all, what is soft power without free museums?

The Next Palestinian Leader?

Barry Rubin writes about Muhammad Ghaneim: "This is not the man to choose if your top priorities are making peace with Israel and maintaining good relations with the West. He is the man you would choose if you intend to reject compromise, rebuild links to Syria and Hamas, and perhaps return to armed struggle." Rubin also thinks that Ghaneim is an "Islamist," a vague label that Rubin has tried to tag (unconvincingly, in my view) on Yasir Arafat.

Ghaneim is definitely from the Fatah old school, which does not incline him to new ways of thinking. So much the worse for the peace process. But is Rubin really so naive as to believe a new, "moderate" Palestinian leadership will come to the fore as long as the number of settlers continues to double every ten years?

Dead Salmon and Red Herrings


Next Stop, Mount Rushmore?

Tommy Lasorda painting unveiled at the National Portrait Gallery.

How The South Is Just a Little "Different"

South Carolina political candidate hosts "machine gun social."

Animal Lessons

"How They Teach Us To Be Human." Book rec of the day.

With Friends Like These, Palestinians Don't Need Enemies

Regarding Ahmadinejad's revolting Quds Day performance: while I cannot agree with Jeffrey Goldberg that the Palestinians are "a group of Sunni Muslims the average Iranian cares about not one whit," I concur with him that it is hard to find a "better example of the cynical manipulation by repressive Muslim governments of the Palestinian cause." Cynical to the point of self-parody! Does the regime believe that the Iranian people cannot see what is in front of their eyes? Does the regime not see that Quds Day is a "two-minute hate" lifted directly from Orwell's 1984?

Anyone who actually cares about the Palestinians should be nauseated by the vile Khamenei and deranged Ahmadinejad. The Palestinians benefit from the 'friendship' (contempt disguised as friendship) of these clowns about as much as they benefited from the 'friendship' of Saddam Hussein, which is to say about as much as they would benefit from a hole in the head.

Here Juan Cole diagnoses Ahmadinejad's world-view as "like The Highlander meets the Protocols of the Elders of Zion."

Monday, September 21, 2009

Terrorist Postage!

Ray Hanania explains that a USPS postage stamp with Arabic on it is not in fact encrypted communication between Osama bin Laden and his American fifth column.

A Bomb in Every Issue

"How the Short, Unruly Life of Ramparts Magazine Changed America." Book rec of the day.

"Social Forestry"


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Why He Did It


Friday, September 18, 2009


Sometimes a little nickname -- or the inversion thereof -- can tell you more about geopolitics than a vast library of expert drivel.

Happy and Limber New Year

Bait for purists: is yoga an acceptable form of Jewish worship?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Federer As Baryshnikov

A lyrical exchange between two dance critics about the aesthetic relationship of tennis and ballet.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Death Panel Meet Circumcision Panel


Department of Tasteless PSAs: Hitler Look-Alike 'Stars' in Graphic German AIDS Campaign

Another terrible ad campaign.

New Frontiers in Artery Congestion


"That Boy Couldn't Manage a Chip Shop"

Choice words about "12-year-old" Jared Kushner from the New York Observer's departing theater critic John Heilpern.

Patrick Stewart Sees Dead People

Perhaps going a little overboard with the method acting...

Jonah Goldberg's Brother Running For Political Office...

... as a Republican on Manhattan's Upper West Side. Good luck with that!

Friday, September 04, 2009

Yummy Today, Gone Tomorrow

Better enjoy that vanilla cupcake with espresso-ganache icing today, says Daniel Gross, because the gourmet cupcake bubble is about to burst!

Weathermen and the Geography Professors Who Stalk Them


Emergency Firefighting at $1 an Hour

California's efforts to lower its prison population could mean fewer firefighters...

Tweet of the Day

Kos: "Would it be okay for the wingers if Obama read 'My Pet Goat' to school children instead of asking them to stay in school and study?"

The Most Important Conservative Publication in America

If you thought it was National Review, or The Weekly Standard, you'd be wrong.

New Evidence Sheds Light on an Eternal Question


Israel's Outrageous Message to Diaspora Jews

While I am a Zionist, this latest campaign to in-gather the exiles is (as Dana Goldstein points out) outrageous, arrogant garbage to which every American Jew, intermarried or otherwise, should take offense. But don't hold your breath waiting for the organized American Jewish community to denounce it. These well-meaning folks believe the tail wags the dog and accept largely on faith that 'reconnecting' with Israel leads young Jews to embrace their ancestral faith and become mega-donors to the local Federation... and they seem not to notice when ham-handed (no blaspheme intended) campaigns like this MASA outrage lead to alienation from both Israel AND religion. Perhaps only the URJ will have the balls to speak out publicly (I have heard plenty of behind-the-scenes grumbling, but that is not enough), which of course would be in its own self-interest as a standard-bearer for pluralism... but in an age of fear (assimilation, Hamas, Iran) one feels it is impossible to be too timid.

UPDATE: J.J. Goldberg calls it "one of the most spectacularly knuckle-headed advertising campaigns in modern Jewish history."

The Type O Curse

No wonder I get so many mosquito bites.