THE UGLIEST CHRISTMAS TREE IN THE WORLD [Andrew Stuttaford]
"Deze boom verdient absoluut geen schoonheidsprijs"…
Yup, who could disagree with that?
It would, however, make an excellent ‘Holiday’ tree.
Via the Zacht Ei blog.
Posted at 08:01 PM
SHEER CRUELTY [Andrew Stuttaford]
Yet more proof that the war on drugs is a war on people:
In September, Jonathan Magbie was sent to jail. Here’s a description (by Colbert King of the Washington Post of Magbie’s physical condition:
“…high spinal cord disruption leading to no -- or limited -- use of his arms and no use of his legs. He had a permanent tracheotomy; was ventilator-dependent at least part of the time, especially when tired or sleeping; had partial diaphragm paralysis requiring the use of a diaphragm pacer; had a permanent indwelling stomach tube and a permanent indwelling urinary catheter, and contracture of the muscles and tendons.”
Magbie was a first-time offender found guilty of simple possession of marijuana. He died in prison.
A number of readers have written in to say that Magbie's sentence was the result of a plea bargain involving more serious offenses. Here's Colbert King's response to that.
One thing that is, I suspect, beyond too much controversy, is that this case demonstrates once again the inability of the prison system to look after those confined to its care.
Posted at 07:35 PM
MAKES YOU THICK? [Andrew Stuttaford]
Some weeks ago I linked to a picture of the Hardee’s Thickburger suggesting that it was ‘revolting’. Numerous angry readers wrote in to condemn this fall from grease on my part. There’s confirmation today that they were right and I was wrong – the always incorrect New York Times has now attacked the Thickburger (and similar treats) in very strong terms, concluding that:
“If restaurants want to serve food like this, they should print the calories and fat content on the overhead menus. “
That’s nanny state nonsense, but it’s made worse by the fact that the newspaper quotes comments from the Center for the Science in the Public Interest without mentioning that this grand-sounding ‘center’ is little more than a cabal of cranks, fanatics and purveyors of public panic. If the Times wishes to subject its readers to the center’s junk science, that’s its right, but perhaps they might have considered a bit more disclosure…
Meanwhile my own quest for a Thickburger is not going well. So far as I know, Manhattan does not boast a Hardee's. The nearest is in Queens and that, of course, is too far to go.
Even for a Thickburger.
Posted at 07:12 PM
"A LITTLE OVERWEIGHT" [KJL]
Bush is so going to get slammed from a teen girls magazine for encouraging obsessive body-imaging.
Posted at 07:05 PM
JOHN BULL LIVES [Andrew Stuttaford]
Just when it seems that the bulldog spirit has been crushed beyond all recognition by Tony Blair’s relentless nannying there’s, um, heartwarming news like this:
“Consumers have responded to the Government's healthy-eating message by stuffing themselves with cake, swilled down with plenty of alcohol. In apparent defiance of warnings about obesity, sales of the sticky confections jumped nearly 5 per cent last year. Shoppers also spent more on chocolate, biscuits, fats and yoghurts. The annual survey of top brands, in The Grocer magazine, also showed sales of lager and wine had soared.”
Posted at 06:20 PM
FRIENDSHIP PIPELINE [Andrew Stuttaford]
Yes, yes, I know that moonshine is potentially dangerous stuff, but I can’t help admiring the initiative that went into this:
“Border guards in Lithuania have unearthed a lengthy pipeline that was intended to ship illicit alcohol from the neighbouring, authoritarian state of Belarus, giving Lithuanians a last cheap and perhaps deadly shot of Soviet-era liquor on the edge of the newly expanded European Union. Rokas Bukinskas, spokesman for the Lithuanian border guard, said: "We found it [yesterday]. It is 3km [2 miles] long and goes under a local river, some fields and roads."
It’s also nice to know that some forms of genuinely free enterprise are hanging on in Belarus, a country run by a thug who is the worst sort of post-Soviet nightmare.
Posted at 06:09 PM
DEFENDING DEBATE [Andrew Stuttaford]
Britain’s Labour Party continues with its plans to muzzle religious debate. The London Times’ Matthew Parris is not impressed:
“There is a huge danger at the centre of the thinking which grounds this measure. What counts as hateful depends very much on the sensitivities and tolerances of the complainant. As we never tire of reminding ourselves, you can get away with verbal aggression towards Christianity which would be considered unacceptable if directed towards Islam. It follows that the less tolerant any religious group is of criticism or mockery, the greater the protection the proposed new law will offer them. But these may be the very faiths or sects which ought to be confronted — confronted and attacked for the very intolerance and self-righteousness which, if this measure becomes law, will be adduced as evidence of their “sensitivity”. In the 1970s this used to be defined as “self-defined” oppression: the notion that it is for you to say what oppresses you. It is a nonsense.”
Parris also makes the vital point that religious controversy is not always polite, and nor should it be:
“Religion can oppress. I hate — yes hate — the sect and its followers who are stopping women in Saudi Arabia from voting. Religion can bully, it can cow, it can coerce. One of the ways it does so is by impressing upon its adherents the idea that none dare offend it, twit it or tweak its tail. Such sects or faiths cast a spell — cultural, even political, as well as theological — over their adherents. Such spells must be broken. A necessary weapon in the hands of those who would do so is ridicule, contempt and the power of real anger. Ask Voltaire: scorn, laughter, calumny and abuse are vital to those who confront bullies.”
Indeed they are.
But for a contrary view, we can turn to Madeleine Bunting in the Guardian:
”The clause on religious hatred lays down the kind of crucial boundary necessary for ordering relations in a multicultural society; as Muslim has become an increasingly important and visible political identity in this country, the state has an urgent responsibility to provide that boundary.
Free speech or multiculturalism? That’s the choice, it seems.
Posted at 05:48 PM
HOW TO ALIENATE YOUR NEIGHBORS [John Derbyshire]
Incredible as it may seem to those readers who look up to me as a paragon of sensitivity, exquisite manners, and Old World charm, I committed a social gaffe yesterday.
We had our street Christmas party, at the house of two very kind & wonderful neighbors -- thanks for a great party, guys! Coming in through the door, I encountered two other neighbors, a lady and a gent. The lady sang out a cheerful "Happy Holidays." I am sorry to say my hackles rose. "Merry Christmas!" I replied, a bit too loud and forcefully. Seeing the slightly stunned expression on the lady's face, I tried to repair thing by adding, "If you don't mind, that is." I think it came out wrong, though, or perhaps was heard wrong. (If you *DON'T* mind!") Anyway, I saw that particular neighbor this morning while walking my dog. She cut me.
I accept full responsibility for this faux pas. I realize I violated the civic religion of early 21st-century America, the religion of Nice. There is a time and a place to wage war against noxious verbal sludge like "Happy Holidays!" but probably one's neighborhood Christmas party isn't it.
What is one to do, though? It's not "holidays," it's Christmas, dammit. I'm perfectly happy to honor *your* festivals -- Happy Ramadan! Happy Kali Puja! sure -- I have no problem with any of that. This one's ours, though; and if you don't like that, maybe you should just stay home and watch the shopping channel on cable.
Posted at 05:41 PM
RE: ZHANG ZIYI [John Derbyshire]
Several readers, after recovering from that Zhang Ziyi website would like to know how to pronounce the lady's first name (which of course, since she is Chinese, is frequently written last). Well, just in case you run into her at the tire warehouse:
It's basically unpronouncable for an English-trained tongue. The "Zi" is something like "tszzz," in a low pitch, rising slightly at the end; the "yi" is "yee," in a higher pitch, rising steadily from beginning to end. The meaning is "child of contentment."
Posted at 05:39 PM
MOTHER AMY [KJL]
Remember Amy Richards? The “selective reduction” mom--she would only have one of her triplets because she wouldn’t dare shop at Costco. She’s got a book deal.
Amy Richards' Opting In: The Case for Feminism and Motherhood, “an exploration of the anxiety over parenting that young women face today, mixing memoir, interviews, historical analysis, and feminist insight to bridge the seeming gap between everyday moms and the feminist movement while providing advice on how women can forge their own path in parenthood.”Can’t wait to hear what she has to tell us about motherhood.
I wrote on a previous Richards book (co-authored) here.
Posted at 04:05 PM
JOHN STOSSEL [KJL]
on State of fear.
Posted at 03:55 PM
LIKE A VIRGIN [KJL]
An abstinence march in Uganda.
Posted at 03:52 PM
O CHRISTMAS TREE [John Derbyshire]
Just got back from Big Orange with the family Christmas tree. Balsam fir, the house is starting to smell lovely. But how do I get this horrid sticky stuff off my hands? Dressing tree is for wife & kids -- I schlepped the thing home & set it up. We practice strict division of labor here chez Derb.
Patricia Busacker fund now at $1,093.77, wow! -- and many, many thanks to all.
Posted at 03:50 PM
HARRY POTTER WINS [KJL]
http://news.scotsman.com/scitech.cfm?id=1417912004">an Internet battle.
Posted at 03:47 PM
Name that tune. I thought it wouldn't recognize "The Outfield," but it did.
Posted at 03:29 PM
vs. the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
Posted at 03:20 PM
RE: SPANGLISH [KJL]
You can watch a 10-minute clip here, btw.
Posted at 03:14 PM
I'LL KEEP HOLDING ON [KJL]
In my continuing series on 80s pop news, Simply Red will be playing at the Vatican Christmas concert.
Posted at 03:08 PM
THIS ISN'T NEW, BUT THEN THE ISSUE ISN'T EITHER [KJL]
Margaret Cho, who is pro-choice: "I had an abortion, and you know what? It f**king hurts like hell...." Read it here. It's graphic and has got harsh language, be forewarned. But worth reading. And blogger makes some good observations.
Posted at 03:01 PM
JOHN KERRY [KJL]
returns to Iowa.
Posted at 02:42 PM
MICHAEL MOORE [KJL]
is campaigning on his website for your vote in the People's Choice Awards. You can vote against him here. And vote for the Passion for best drama here.
Posted at 02:27 PM
EROS TOO EROTIC AT OLYMPICS? [KJL]
FCC Fan Andrew Stuttaford will enjoy this.
Posted at 02:23 PM
I'M PRETTY SURE [KJL]
Alberto Gonzalez's stepson's job as a consultant to the vile Hustler shouldn't be a "legitimate issue" in his nomination hearings. But, of course, we live in the day when Disney vacations are the stuff of holding up nominations, so who knows...
Posted at 02:07 PM
TEENS DELAY SEX [KJL]
Hey, waiting (and teaching kids to) might not be a terrible thing afterall (another WashPost Ceci Connelly Page 1er)! Imagine.
Posted at 01:52 PM
STEVE HAYES [KJL]
went along with Cheney to the Afghan presidential inauguration.
Posted at 01:38 PM
RE: OFFICIAL CLOSING OF THE OFFICE OF RONALD REAGAN [Peter Robinson]
My post this morning brought in emails that proved both sweet and sad, and I thought I’d offer a couple of the loveliest. From one reader:
Regarding your post about Ronald Reagan in The Corner: Last night my wife and I watched an episode of What's My Line from 1952-53 era where Ronald Reagan was the Mystery Guest. He came across as very friendly, funny and down to earth. Reagan was trying to disguise his voice, and used a number of different dialects. We commented that if the Reagan haters had that footage they would have taken it out of context and used it as an example of some bumbling fool rather than an example of someone having fun.From another reader:
When he was still out and about, his offices were in the Fox Plaza, home to many of Twentieth Century Fox offices. It may surprise you to know that even us crazy lefties working in Hollywood were always thrilled to catch a glimpse of him striding through the lobby. He was an important man for all Americans.Funny, friendly, down to earth—and always ready to wink or smile at a regular citizen. That was Ronald Reagan.
Posted at 01:22 PM
BUSH NOMINATES NANNY TO REPLACE KERIK [KJL]
from Scrappleface. Hey, they could get the chick from Spanglish...
Posted at 01:19 PM
HGH CONCENTRATIONS OF DIOXINS [KJL]
The Yuschenko poisoning diagnosis.
Posted at 12:48 PM
DO NOT GO TO THE MALL! [Jack Fowler]
Nothing like a little trip to the mall two weekends before Christmas to bring out the HO HO blankety blank HO holiday spirit. Why not avoid the entire ugly experience by getting kids what they truly need and deserve, and will enjoy -- one of National Review's beloved kids books? Among the many titles we offer, I humbly suggest, for those little ones who enjoy mommy or daddy reading them a nice tale as a prelude to sweet dreams, The National Review Treasury of Classic Bedtime Stories. This lavishly illustrated, 360-page book contains 10 glorious Thornton Burgess animal adventures. Get it -- you'll be so very glad you did -- and when you do you'll also receive a free copy of another great book, "Oz" author L. Frank Baum's Queen Zixi of Ix. To order NR's books, go here (and not to the mall!). And yes Virginia, there still is plenty of time for Santa Claus to get these books to you!
Posted at 12:47 PM
GREAT LABEL AVOIDANCE [Tim Graham]
Washington Post reporter Dan Balz covers Terry McAuliffe's defensive description of what went wrong in 2004, and not a single Democratic consitutency is awarded a "liberal" label, not even the "grass-roots activists" at MoveOn who hated war in Afghanistan and preferred Presidents Dean or Kucinich.
How gentle. Do you think Balz might have a found few people to suggest that McAuliffe himself stood at the wheel while the party was shellacked two cycles in a row?
Posted at 12:44 PM
RE: SPANGLISH [Peter Robinson]
Decent, sweet, and heartwarming? K-Lo, I'm sold. I'll be sure to take She Who Must Be Obeyed over the holidays, then report back.
Re the way the Mexican immigrants work so diligently in Spanglish, you remind me of a remark my Hoover colleague Tom Sowell once made. After a quarter of a century of living in California, he had yet to see a Hispanic beg for money.
Can anybody tell me anything about The Life Aquatic, by the way? I like Bill Murray, but the promo I happened to see on the tube last night made the movie look stupid.
Posted at 12:41 PM
THE WORLD ACCORDING TO MOYERS [Cliff May]
Here’s what Bill Moyers said:
“I'm going out telling the story that I think is the biggest story of our time: how the right-wing media has become a partisan propaganda arm of the Republican National Committee. We have an ideological press that's interested in the election of Republicans, and a mainstream press that's interested in the bottom line. Therefore, we don't have a vigilant, independent press whose interest is the American people."
I have to comment for four reasons: 1) I began my so-called career working for Bill Moyers (whom I still like and admire), 2) I spent more than 20 years in the “mainstream press,” 3) I spent four years as the spokesman for the Republican National Committee, and 4) I now contribute to what he calls “the ideological press.”
To begin, it’s unfortunate that he’s “going out” telling a story that he hasn’t reported on in any comprehensive way and clearly doesn’t understand.
Second, yes, there is an “ideological press.” It is forthright and honest about its desire to view the world from a conservative perspective and to make the case for a conservative world view. And, yes, since Republicans are more likely to be conservatives, obviously there is interest in the election of GOP candidates.
There also is a “mainstream press” that – news flash! -- is no less ideological but subscribes to an alternative ideology. That Bill and others fail to see that is beyond reason. (Perhaps it’s a matter of faith.) The “mainstream press” also has become implacably and aggressively hostile to conservatives and Republicans – but insists on denying that obvious fact.
What I’m saying is not just an analysis – it’s an eyewitness account: I worked at The New York Times as a reporter, editor and foreign correspondent. Perhaps uniquely, I went over to what Bill would see as the “dark side” when I joined the RNC as communications director. (And, recently, I clashed, rather hotly, with the top Times editor over my criticism of his front-page, eve-of-election coverage of the “missing explosives” of al Qaqaa, which was only one notch below Dan Rather’s use of forged documentation to establish that President Bush had not fulfilled his National Guard obligations.)
Look, I think Bill is correct to say that America should have a vigilant, independent press – it also should be a balanced and disinterested press. But I don’t think that’s possible until and unless the mainstream press is willing to engage in self-examination and self-criticism, is willing to re-establish the boundaries between opinion and analysis and between analysis and news.
I wish my old boss, Bill Moyers, would take on that challenge. I wish he’d at least begin a serious discussion. That doesn’t seem likely.
Posted at 12:33 PM
LAST SPANGLISH ASIDE [KJL]
For spouses, it's a "date" movie. In other words: Don't bring the kids, Peter. A cool message, but there will be a scene or two you'd cringe through if they were there--I would.
Posted at 02:28 AM
OVER THE BORDER [KJL]
And then there is the illegal immigration thing in Spanglish. The housekeeper (Vega) comes to America with her young daughter “economy class…”—they run across the Mexican border. And what does she do? Works her tail off, four jobs for $400-something a week I think her daughter narrator says at one point. Hardworking, decent, wonderful people are many of the illegals in the country. Totally the way W sees it. And totally true in so many cases…they just want the best for their families. It’s a single mother in this case whose husband inexplicably left her, as they do sometimes do.
But, of course, they’re still illegal…and if we’re not cracking down on her, we’re also not cracking down at the guy who wants to do us harm at a time when there is an active jihad being waged against us, among other things…
Posted at 02:25 AM
SPANGLISH: ONLY IN THE CORNER… [KJL ]
Can I have another total dork moment (see Cabinet bets from earlier)? I thought while watching Spanglish, George W. Bush would love this movie. The dad—the love for his awkward-aged, beautifully considerate daughter (really nicely played by Sarah Steele)—would be exactly the model W. seems to exude, just by being a father to his daughters.
Posted at 02:22 AM
K-LO@THE MOVIES [KJL ]
Let me start with this: I am not a movie critic. I have no talent at it. Probably don’t watch enough movies anyway.
But--you knew there was a but coming...
Some related statements of fact first: I love Frederica Mathewes-Green's writing. I love her movie reviews. (Read her Incredibles review, for instance, if you haven’t.)
Back to the but part….
Yes, I see what she is saying in her review of Spanglish. But…ok, first off, I probably go for the random sitcom stuff Frederica complains about. Maybe I have ADD. Maybe I just need it on a Friday night. (Remember, I’m not a critic, just a consumer here.)
And, I also thought Opera Man was the funniest skit in like the history of comedy at the time Adam Sandler was doing it on SNL (I maybe still do, sorta)…so there’s where I’m coming from.
I saw a Spanglish preview tonight and thought it was a great movie. Not like Gone with the Wind great or Zulu great or whatever classic is yours to have and to hold. But a decent, sweet, heartwarming—and funny movie.
There were some great lines and a great general attitude—as Frederica points out in her review—about responsibility. My favorite line comes when Adam Sandler and newcomer Paz Vega are at a near-no-turning-back point and Vega’s character says that when you have children there are some mistakes you just can’t make. Family. Responsibility. Parental love. The friendship between the Sandler and Vega characters was so real and, frankly (and now I get patronizing? Sorry.) useful I think for a NY artsy audience, which I happened to be mixed in with tonight. The blues can afford to be exposed to 90 minutes of those messages in a funny, breezy kinda way.
Some conversations coming out of the theater were “That was, uh, different. Like a family movie.” You sensed a little air of not getting it. (But I figure they cracked up enough they won’t trash it.) So, in other words, I loved it.
Posted at 02:20 AM
SOYLENT GREEN [KJL]
Steve, there are some really weird people in the world.
Posted at 01:37 AM
WE HEAR [KJL]
the HHS announcement will be coming out Monday. (Mark McClellan I'd--ok and like every other Beltway dork [who bets on Cabinet picks?]--bet.)
Posted at 01:22 AM
PETERSON & CBS [KJL]
A reader makes a prediction: "CBS Will release the Rathergate investigation report within 6 hours after the Scott Peterson penalty verdict is announced. Just thought you'd like to know."
Posted at 01:19 AM
SO THAT'S WHY BERNIE KERIK [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
looked so nervous on the morning he was nominated. (He's dropped out of the Homeland Security gig.) I remember saying to a colleague, "Dude (yeah, I did say that, ok?), I've never seen (remember, I'm a NYer) Bernie Kerik look so NERVOUS." There evidently was reason? So, like, who was supposed to VET HIM?
Posted at 01:13 AM