These are all the Blogs posted on Wednesday, 1, 2006.
Wednesday, 1 March 2006
The comedian, Linda Smith, died today aged 48. To be honest, this was the first time I heard that she had cancer. She was very funny, though I didn't usually agree with her politics:
Voted the “wittiest living person” by radio listeners in 2002, Smith became one of the small band of women who made it to the top of the male-dominated world of comedy.
Listeners delighted in her jaundiced or plain surreal observations on Radio 4’s Just A Minute and The News Quiz, where she became the first female team captain.
She also enjoyed a successful career on television with a string of appearances on panel programmes, including Have I Got News For You, QI and Mock The Week.
The "wittiest living person"? Now that is a lot to live up to. Wouldn't it make you somewhat tongue-tied if you knew that you had to say something wittier than anything said by any person currently alive? Wouldn't it make wit into something daunting, rather than something light and pleasurable?
Here's an example of Linda's humour, from The Times:
Of Christ, she said: “Despite all those blonde paintings, we know he wasn’t English, because he wore sandals —but never with socks.”
This is funny, certainly, but is it witty? Witty is different from funny. Wit must be spontaneous. Dorothy Parker was witty. Stephen Fry is witty. Linda Smith was funny.
Still, if we accept that she was the wittiest living person, this position is now vacant. Who should fill it? This is a matter of personal preference, of course, and readers could come up with any number of candidates. Some would be British, some American. However, it is a fair assumption that none would be German or Japanese. The German language does not lend itself to wit; it is too unwieldy. Perhaps I'm being unfair on the Japanese, as I know nothing of their language beyond a few hilarious neologisms, such as:
Toirebijutsukan Literally, toilet museum. The trend whereby young women moving into an apartment alone for the first time will go to extreme lengths to decorate their lavatory, scent it with perfume and stock it with interesting literature
Yes, perhaps I am wrong, or at least unduly anglo-centric. Perhaps there is a Japanese Stephen Fly, laughing at us laughing at them.
Posted on 03/01/2006 9:15 AM by Mary Jackson
Wednesday, 1 March 2006
Three St David's Days
My breakfast DJ, Tony Blackburn, has just announced that today is St David's Day and greetings to all Welsh listeners. Who are a lucky bunch this year. Because yesterday was also St David's Day, and tomorrow will be St David's Day again. It's because today, the 1 March, is Ash Wednesday so the celebration of the saint himself was moved. The Catholic Church moved it forward, and the Church of Wales moved it back. They do talk to each other but obviously not about this.
Read all about it on the BBC.
I don't have a problem with a three day bash. St David is the only patron saint of the UK born and bred in the country he is patron of. St George's Day is taking off, and St Patrick went global years ago. I'm not sure how much the Scots make of St Andrew's day at the end of November.
Posted on 03/01/2006 1:53 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Wednesday, 1 March 2006
At 75, Gorbachev Laments U.S. 'Arrogance'
This caught my eye, particularly in light of Rebecca's remarks on Russia in "My Restoration Weekend" on the main page.
From AP, via Yahoo! News:
Mikhail Gorbachev's magnetic brown eyes shine as brightly as ever, and he speaks with the same passion about the collapse of the Soviet Union as he prepares to mark his 75th birthday on Thursday.
Alright, first things first: The above, bold-faced phrase juxtaposes two mental images that are the least likely ever to be placed in the same sentence, even by the proverbial "monkeys at typewriters." No, MG is definitely not in the "magnetic brown eyes" file.
The man who ended the Cold War and launched democratic reforms that broke the repressive Soviet regime continues to enjoy the limelight, globe-trotting on behalf of his political foundation and environmental group and taking part in charity projects.
Poppycock. With a side of horsefeathers. Saying Gorbachev ended the Cold War is like saying Hitler ended WWII in Europe by shooting himself. It was already over by that point.
At a meeting with foreign reporters this week, Gorbachev blamed the United States for losing a chance to build a safer and more stable world following the Soviet demise.
"Ending the Cold War was given as a gift" to the United States, but it only strengthened its arrogance and unilateralism, he said. "The winner's complex is worse than an inferiority complex, because it's harder to cure."
A gift? You lost!
As far as opportunities lost, it seems Gorbachev didn't name any in particular, but just engaged in bellyaching over the USSR's lost opportunity to be even more arrogant and absolutely unilateralist if, heaven forbid, it had emerged as the dominant superpower.
It's also interesting to note that the countries that truly harm the safety and stability of the world today were wined, dined, and armed by the USSR, either as fellow communists, like North Korea, or under the umbrella of the aptly mis-named Non-Aligned Movement. Just a quick glance over who's flying MiGs at the Federation of American Scientists website-- for example, the MiG 21 is in the arsenal of Sudan, Iran, Syria, Egypt, and North Korea, among others-- is very telling.
And in the case of the Islamic bloc, they armed those who would now seek to destroy them, along with the rest of the West. In her article, Rebecca had mentioned the Red / Black alliance-- Moscow didn't think that one through, did they?
How are the antics of those countries America's fault, except for by thwarting the Soviets' efforts toward even greater worldwide domination?
Time for the band to play Gorbachev off the world stage-- how about to "Them There Eyes?"
Posted on 03/01/2006 12:39 PM by Marisol Seibold
Wednesday, 1 March 2006
What a real Arab reformer sounds like
|Arab-American Psychologist Wafa Sultan: There Is No Clash of Civilizations but a Clash between the Mentality of the Middle Ages and That of the 21st Century
Following are excerpts from an interview with Arab-American psychologist Wafa Sultan. The interview was aired on Al-Jazeera TV on February 21, 2006
Wafa Sultan: The clash we are witnessing around the world is not a clash of religions, or a clash of civilizations. It is a clash between two opposites, between two eras. It is a clash between a mentality that belongs to the Middle Ages and another mentality that belongs to the 21st century. It is a clash between civilization and backwardness, between the civilized and the primitive, between barbarity and rationality. It is a clash between freedom and oppression, between democracy and dictatorship. It is a clash between human rights, on the one hand, and the violation of these rights, on other hand. It is a clash between those who treat women like beasts, and those who treat them like human beings. What we see today is not a clash of civilizations. Civilizations do not clash, but compete...
Host: I understand from your words that what is happening today is a clash between the culture of the West, and the backwardness and ignorance of the Muslims?
Wafa Sultan: Yes, that is what I mean...
Host: Who came up with the concept of a clash of civilizations? Was it not Samuel Huntington? It was not Bin Laden. I would like to discuss this issue, if you don't mind...
Wafa Sultan: The Muslims are the ones who began using this expression. The Muslims are the ones who began the clash of civilizations. The Prophet of Islam said: "I was ordered to fight the people until they believe in Allah and His Messenger." When the Muslims divided the people into Muslims and non-Muslims, and called to fight the others until they believe in what they themselves believe, they started this clash, and began this war. In order to start this war, they must reexamine their Islamic books and curricula, which are full of calls for takfir and fighting the infidels.
My colleague has said that he never offends other people's beliefs. What civilization on the face of this earth allows him to call other people by names that they did not choose for themselves? Once, he calls them Ahl Al-Dhimma, another time he calls them the "People of the Book," and yet another time he compares them to apes and pigs, or he calls the Christians "those who incur Allah's wrath." Who told you that they are "People of the Book"? They are not the People of the Book, they are people of many books. All the useful scientific books that you have today are theirs, the fruit of their free and creative thinking. What gives you the right to call them "those who incur Allah's wrath," or "those who have gone astray," and then come here and say that your religion commands you to refrain from offending the beliefs of others?
I am not a Christian, a Muslim, or a Jew. I am a secular human being. I do not believe in the supernatural, but I respect others' right to believe in it.
Dr. Ibrahim Al-Khouli: Are you a heretic?
Wafa Sultan: You can say whatever you like. I am a secular human being who does not believe in the supernatural...
Dr. Ibrahim Al-Khouli: If you are a heretic, there is no point in rebuking you, since you have blasphemed against Islam, the Prophet, and the Koran...
Wafa Sultan: These are personal matters that do not concern you...
Wafa Sultan: Brother, you can believe in stones, as long as you don't throw them at me. You are free to worship whoever you want, but other people's beliefs are not your concern, whether they believe that the Messiah is God, son of Mary, or that Satan is God, son of Mary. Let people have their beliefs...
Wafa Sultan: The Jews have came from the tragedy (of the Holocaust), and forced the world to respect them, with their knowledge, not with their terror, with their work, not their crying and yelling. Humanity owes most of the discoveries and science of the 19th and 20th centuries to Jewish scientists. 15 million people, scattered throughout the world, united and won their rights through work and knowledge. We have not seen a single Jew blow himself up in a German restaurant. We have not seen a single Jew destroy a church. We have not seen a single Jew protest by killing people. The Muslims have turned three Buddha statues into rubble. We have not seen a single Buddhist burn down a Mosque, kill a Muslim, or burn down an embassy. Only the Muslims defend their beliefs by burning down churches, killing people, and destroying embassies. This path will not yield any results. The Muslims must ask themselves what they can do for humankind, before they demand that humankind respect them.
Posted on 03/01/2006 8:05 PM by Andy Bostom