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Recent Publications by New English Review Authors
The Oil Cringe of the West: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly Vol. 2
edited by S.B. Kelly
The Impact of Islam
by Emmet Scott
Sir Walter Scott's Crusades and Other Fantasies
by Ibn Warraq
Fighting the Retreat from Arabia and the Gulf: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly. Vol. 1
edited by S.B. Kelly
The Literary Culture of France
by J. E. G. Dixon
Hamlet Made Simple and Other Essays
by David P. Gontar
Farewell Fear
by Theodore Dalrymple
The Eagle and The Bible: Lessons in Liberty from Holy Writ
by Kenneth Hanson
The West Speaks
interviews by Jerry Gordon
Mohammed and Charlemagne Revisited: The History of a Controversy
Emmet Scott
Why the West is Best: A Muslim Apostate's Defense of Liberal Democracy
Ibn Warraq
Anything Goes
by Theodore Dalrymple
Karimi Hotel
De Nidra Poller
The Left is Seldom Right
by Norman Berdichevsky
Allah is Dead: Why Islam is Not a Religion
by Rebecca Bynum
Virgins? What Virgins?: And Other Essays
by Ibn Warraq
An Introduction to Danish Culture
by Norman Berdichevsky
The New Vichy Syndrome:
by Theodore Dalrymple
Jihad and Genocide
by Richard L. Rubenstein
Spanish Vignettes: An Offbeat Look Into Spain's Culture, Society & History
by Norman Berdichevsky

These are all the Blogs posted on Wednesday, 14, 2007.
Wednesday, 14 February 2007
How the Madrid train bombing trial will work
I mentioned the preparation for the trial of those accused of the Madrid Train bombings here. I am obliged to Alan for directing me to this piece from Reuters which explains how the trial will proceed.
There are some interesting differences to the trial of the men accused to attempting to bomb London’s tube and bus system in progress at the Crown Court in Woolwich.  In British criminal trials one Judge sits with the verdict decided by jury. In Spain a three Judge panel will preside.
They will hear from the accused first, then the witnesses, then the expert witnesses.

The hearings are expected to last until late July and the judges are expected to deliver their verdicts and sentences no earlier than October. There will be three breaks in the trial for Easter week in April and other national holidays.

Each defendant is allowed to invite one person to sit in the public gallery, where a small block of seats is reserved for victims and relatives of those who died. There are 10 seats for the first members of the public to turn up.

Beneath the courtroom is another hall for victims and relatives, where there will also be a clinic and psychologists to help people get through the trial. (Something underfunded victim support in the UK would envy)

The trial is being broadcast live on Spanish television and on the Internet ( The court is providing simultaneous translation for witnesses or defendants who do not speak Spanish. 

British trials are not televised and there are certain restrictions on what can be reported while trials are in progress. I will try to find an update on the events at Crown Court Woolwich later today.

Posted on 02/14/2007 2:38 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Wednesday, 14 February 2007
Cambridge update - a Clare student writes

Many of us have been puzzled about the deafening silence surrounding the case of the Cambridge student who published the Mohammed cartoons. A Clare student has emailed Pommygranate, and provides some clarification.



Posted on 02/14/2007 4:57 AM by Mary Jackson
Wednesday, 14 February 2007
Enjoy a cuppa

A little of what you fancy does you good. From the BBC:

Drinking three or more cups of tea a day is as good for you as drinking plenty of water and may even have extra health benefits, say researchers.

The work in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition dispels the common belief that tea dehydrates.

Tea not only rehydrates as well as water does, but it can also protect against heart disease and some cancers, UK nutritionists found.

Experts believe flavonoids are the key ingredient in tea that promote health.

I like these stories, especially when they're about red wine. I drink gallons of tea, but it wasn't so long ago that "experts" were saying it was bad for you. It's best to ignore the experts and do what you like.

Posted on 02/14/2007 7:13 AM by Mary Jackson
Wednesday, 14 February 2007
Wednesday, 14 February 2007
Obama's Church

For those of you who didn't hear John Derbyshire read this out on his podcast, Here is the Trinity Church of Christ in Chicago, the church Barak Obama belongs to, explaining what they represent:

We are a congregation which is Unashamedly Black and Unapologetically Christian... Our roots in the Black religious experience and tradition are deep, lasting and permanent. We are an African people, and remain "true to our native land," the mother continent, the cradle of civilization. God has superintended our pilgrimage through the days of slavery, the days of segregation, and the long night of racism. It is God who gives us the strength and courage to continuously address injustice as a people, and as a congregation. We constantly affirm our trust in God through cultural expression of a Black worship service and ministries which address the Black Community.

Trinity United Church of Christ adopted the Black Value System written by the Manford Byrd Recognition Committee chaired by Vallmer Jordan in 1981. We believe in the following 12 precepts and covenantal statements. These Black Ethics must be taught and exemplified in homes, churches, nurseries and schools, wherever Blacks are gathered. They must reflect on the following concepts:

  1. Commitment to God
  2. Commitment to the Black Community
  3. Commitment to the Black Family
  4. Dedication to the Pursuit of Education
  5. Dedication to the Pursuit of Excellence
  6. Adherence to the Black Work Ethic
  7. Commitment to Self-Discipline and Self-Respect
  8. Disavowal of the Pursuit of "Middleclassness"
  9. Pledge to make the fruits of all developing and acquired skills available to the Black Community
  10. Pledge to Allocate Regularly, a Portion of Personal Resources for Strengthening and Supporting Black Institutions
  11. Pledge allegiance to all Black leadership who espouse and embrace the Black Value System
  12. Personal commitment to embracement of the Black Value System.

Is this what he means by "inclusiveness?"

Posted on 02/14/2007 7:20 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Wednesday, 14 February 2007
Fundamental rights

The Cambridge student's eloquent response in this post notwithstanding, there is a larger point involved regarding the republication of one of the Danish Mohammed cartoons in the U.K., and it concerns fundamental rights.  Worries about what will happen to freedom of speech in this case are well founded since the record shows that in the previous two "incidents" (only two?) free speech was squelched—promptly.  From the Cambridge student paper the Varsity:

The only other British publications to have printed the cartoons are Y Llan, the magazine of the Church of Wales and Gair Rhydd, the Cardiff University student newspaper. Two hours after Gair Rhydd was printed, all copies were withdrawn from circulation and the editors responsible were suspended. The Cardiff paper had printed the cartoon to illustrate a serious discussion of the impact of the riots in Denmark.

What riots?  Who rioted?  Any infidels hurt?  As to that Welsh church organ, this from

The Anglican Church in Wales has apologized to Muslims after a cartoon satirizing prophet Mohammed was printed in its Welsh-language magazine.

The Church in Wales issued an immediate recall of all copies of the latest edition of Y Llan - meaning Church - following the reproduction of the cartoon.

The drawing, reprinted from the French magazine France Soir, criticizes the Prophet Mohammed by depicting him sitting on a heavenly cloud with Buddha and Christian and Muslim deities.

He is being told "Don't complain... we've all been caricatured here."

The cartoon was used to illustrate an article about the shared ancestry of Christianity, Islam and Judaism.

The spokesman for the Archbishop of Wales, Barry Morgan, said: "The Church in Wales is thoroughly investigating how this cartoon came to be reproduced. The church said "The Church in Wales is thoroughly investigating how this cartoon came to be reproduced in Y Llan. Despite the publication's small circulation, we are concerned about the possibility of causing any offence to the Muslim community in Wales - with whom the Church in Wales has an excellent relationship - as a result of the reproduction of this cartoon.

Yes, of course, we all want relations with Islam, even excellent relations. Just click your heels together and pray...

Update:  Just  a further thought, actually:  In the U.K. as in the U.S., mainstream media has avoided republication of these cartoons which Muslims find so offensive.  Muslims appear to be the only religious group so respected, perhaps because the MSM deems it prudent to avoid offending the one religious group that has not made peace with free speech.  In so doing, they are sacrificing freedom of the press to a god that most of them don't even believe in. 

Bravo to the Cambridge student editor who has shown more guts than his elders, a student who is not at liberty because he exercised his liberty.

Posted on 02/14/2007 6:00 AM by Robert Bove
Wednesday, 14 February 2007
Who knew he was so smooth?
A new video ad against London's mayor (h/t: Dan Freedman).
Posted on 02/14/2007 7:35 AM by Robert Bove
Wednesday, 14 February 2007
Obama Ducking the Hard Calls

Nathan Gonzales at OpinionJournal (via Real Clear Politics) on Senator Obama's disturbing tendency to vote "present" on controversial issues in the Illinois legislature.  Not exactly a profile in courage.

Posted on 02/14/2007 8:18 AM by Andy McCarthy
Wednesday, 14 February 2007
St. Valentine's Day
Snow in the 'burbs.  Kids home from school.  Wife & I bought each other identical boxes of chocolates, now being gleefully massacred (historical allusion, see?) by kids.  Son (11) has a Valentine, but blushes & squirms when asked about it.  Daughter (14) v. cagey, must interrogate. 
"All you need is love"—Not actually true, but nice thought on a cold morning none the less.  Recycle St. V. day column.  Happy day, everyone.
Posted on 02/14/2007 8:27 AM by John Derbyshire
Wednesday, 14 February 2007
Arabic Public School to Open in Brooklyn

The obvious question is WHY? And WHO talked the DOE into this?  NY1:

The Department of Education says that it will open a public school next fall dedicated to Arabic language and culture.

The Khalil Gibran International Academy is one of 40 new schools that will their debut in the city next September.

Education officials say that although half the classes at the school will be taught in Arabic, they want to enroll a diverse student body.

The school is set to open in Brooklyn.

Posted on 02/14/2007 8:45 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Wednesday, 14 February 2007
Muslim leader rejects Saudi funding
CANBERRA'S peak Islamic body has appointed a new imam for the capital amid claims the Saudi Arabian Government is dividing the local Muslim community through controversial payments to religious leaders.
It was reported last month that Canberra's imam, who was also a full-time employee of the Australian Tax Office (ATO), had been accused by a faction of worshippers of misusing donations from the Saudi Government's religious donation office.
Community members wrote to the ATO calling for an investigation into whether the former imam, Mohammed Swaiti, declared regular salary payments from the Saudi Arabian Government. The cash payments were said to be made in US dollars.
The leaflet claimed the Islamic donation office of the Saudi embassy – or Dawaa office – was dividing Canberra's Muslim population by backing the imam against those unhappy with what had happened with the funds.
Sabre Poskovic, president of the ACT Islamic Society, said today the body had appointed a new imam, Yasar Atay. It was unclear what would happen to Mr Swaiti.
Mr Poskovic said the new imam would be paid by the Islamic society, not by the Saudi Government. He said a cleric could only truly claim to represent his community if he was paid by his community and he did not want the Saudi Government interfering in the local mosque. "Imams should be paid by the community," Mr Poskovic said.
Leaflets distributed at the mosque last month claimed that 13 years ago the then Saudi ambassador, Abdul Rahman, gave the imam $35,000 to be spent on renovation work at the mosque. None of the money was said to have been passed on despite repeated approaches by members of the mosque asking that the money be released to pay for maintenance work.
The letter to the ATO complained that Mr Swaiti, who is of Palestinian decent, was radical in his preaching, telling followers not to make friends with non-Muslims and that they would burn in hell for sending Christmas cards.
Posted on 02/14/2007 10:27 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Wednesday, 14 February 2007
D'Souza and Polygamy

Stanley Kurtz brings out still more fuzzy and bizzare thinking in D'Souza's new book here. This particular passage is about D'Souza'a breezy treatment of polygamy:

D’Souza washes out all of these contrasts by pointing to the common belief among the world’s traditional peoples that there is “a moral order in the universe that makes claims on us.” Well, yes, the belief in an external morality does indeed distinguish traditional cultures as a group from the expressive individualist morality of modern secularism. Yet D’Souza dismisses the massive differences between and among these traditional groups with a wave of his hand. Particular societies, he concedes, might disagree “about the exact source of this [external] moral order, its precise content, or how a society should convert its moral beliefs into legal and social practice.” (I’ll say!) But for D’Souza, it’s enough to note that the virtues praised by most traditional cultures make up “pretty much the same list.” D’Souza goes so far as to equate “the traditional morality that holds sway in all traditional cultures” with the “virtual moral consensus in America prior to the 1960's.”

That would certainly have surprised the 1878 Supreme Court, which unanimously rejected the practice of polygamy on the grounds of its incompatibility with democracy. (See Polygamy Versus Democracy.”) Polygamy, the court said, embodies a “patriarchal principle” characteristic of societies in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa — a principle incompatible with the American system of government.

Yet, hoping to build a worldwide coalition of traditionalists, D’Souza attacks Western objections to polygamy as ethnocentric. Besides, says D’Souza, polygamy is in the Bible. And what about all that early European patriarchy? Here D’Souza is glossing over the unique synthesis of “traditional” family life with egalitarian and individualist values that early Christianity began, and that Tocqueville’s America brought fully into harmony with democracy. Our war on terror has everything to do with the fact that Muslim society has failed to forge such a synthesis...

I strongly recommend Kurtz's "Polygamy Versus Democracy" linked above.

Posted on 02/14/2007 11:05 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Wednesday, 14 February 2007
Mass Murder in SLC

I assume that as soon as the murderer was identified the police went straight to his house, sealed it off, removed every item that was his from that house and especially from his room, if he has one seized his computer, and took every single shred of evidence, and are continuing to look for more, about what he read, what he viewed, whom he talked to, what was on his mind. And if there is any sign that his mother or sisters have destroyed or hidden such evidence, or that others have done so, the police will of course charge them with all kinds of things. One has to know exactly what was going through his head, about what, and against whom, he expressed or without openly expressing felt resentment.

And eventually this will all be shared not only with other law enforcement agencies, but with the public in Salt Lake City.

Surely I am right to assume that all of that will happen, or has in part already happened.


Posted on 02/14/2007 11:43 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 14 February 2007
Tancredo Smokes Cigar, Ellison Calls Cops
Their offices are next to each other. Here is the story.
Posted on 02/14/2007 12:01 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Wednesday, 14 February 2007
Where has all the romance gone?

If you need to buy flowers or chocolate for your Valentine,  you're on your own. The condoms, however, are free  courtesy of New York City. You Tube here.

Posted on 02/14/2007 12:14 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Wednesday, 14 February 2007
This from the Daily Mirror is about all there is on line at the moment on the trial at Crown Court Woolwich.
When asked what Omar’s views were on 9/11, Mr A replied: “He confirmed that it is a good thing and a worthy cause. He was in support of the action.
The court heard Mr A had told police after Omar’s arrest: “His views were that it’s the West against Islam. We had conversations about it until he called me Uncle Tom or Uncle Sam.  After 9/11 I told him a lot of people died but he said it was ‘justified’.”
Posted on 02/14/2007 12:31 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Wednesday, 14 February 2007
If The Shoe Fits...

One of the listed sponsors of the event is the well-known cordelier Kenneth Cole, chairman of amfAR (American Society for Aids Research). The distribution of the membranes in question will take place at the 50th street store of Kenneth Cole.

One with difficulty refrains from rephrasing two folk sayings.

To wit (to wit): 

Shoemaker, stick to your last.


If the shoe fits, wear it.

Posted on 02/14/2007 2:42 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 14 February 2007
Oil Is Fungible

DUBAI (Reuters) -- A Saudi wing of al Qaeda called for attacks on U.S. oil sources across the world, saying targets should not be limited to the Middle East and listing Canada, Venezuela and Mexico as U.S. oil suppliers. --from this news item

The threat is hollow. Any diminution in oil supplies anywhere will lead to a rise in price, but not to a cutoff to any particular oil-consuming nation. If, say, oilfields in Venezuela were to be damaged by Islamic terrorists (thus ending that brief and apparently unrequited love-affair with los-de-abajo Chavez, caudillo of all he surveys), then the market price for oil in the United States goes up, but it also goes up for China, and France, and ever other oil-consuming nation.

The price rise, of course, also would give a boost to oil-producers, and for all we know, such a plot would be welcomed by those oil-producers, including most obviously Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Russia.

There is no country-specific damage, among the world's oil-consuming states, that Muslim terrorists can inflict. They can, however, inflict damage on oil-producing states, and I suggest they try their hardest. I'd recommend Saudi Arabia, but also the U.A.E. and Kuwait and Qatar (with its gas), so that the cost of those corrupt regimes staying in power goes up and up, and their frightened need for Western military help also rises (for which of course we should expect to be paid, and very handsomely, to recoup some of the $750 billion squandered in Iraq, and on the first Gulf War, and in maintaining ships in or near the Gulf, and not only by the Muslim oil states that require such protection, but by all the oil-consuming states -- why, after all, should American taxpayers be shelling out hundreds of billions of dollars to "protect" the oil of the Gulf for China, and for the countries of Western Europe, and others? If it is so important to them, either make them pay, right now, or skip the protection altogether. In case of need, simply seize the Saudi oil fields, as the biggest, and the easiest to offload oil from onto waiting ships, and forget the rest. Make noises about sharing the wealth --once sums are deducted for the costs of security associated with the Saudi promotion, through mosque-and-madrasa building, through propaganda and well-funded and carefully-targetted systematic campaigns of Da'wa, are toted up, and the sums deducted from the sale of that formerly "Saudi" oil.

There's so much that could and should be done. But the notion that we are to protect, and pay for the oil supply on which so many others rely, and rely far more than we do, is idiotic.

But we are ruled by a good many idiots. Oh, you already knew that.

Posted on 02/14/2007 2:51 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 14 February 2007
Well, Sure Quds Force Operatives Are Killing Americans in Iraq, But How Do We Really Know the Iranians Put Them Up To It?

This is the latest illustration of the ostrich approach to Iranian war-making in Iraq, given voice today in the Boston Globe by this priceless observation from Daniel Serwer of the U.S. Institute for Peace and (of course) the Iraq Study Group, who "said he was not convinced that the Iranian government had decided 'at the highest levels' to provide weapons to target US troops," just because the Defense Department has confirmed that we've caught them doing just that.  The report elaborates:

"The question is not so much about whether there are Iranian weapons inside Iraq," said Serwer, who served as executive director of the Iraq Study Group, the bipartisan commission on Iraq. "Sure there are. The question is whether there is a conscious policy by the Iranian government or some part of the Iranian government to support lethal attacks against Americans. I haven't seen any proof of that yet."

When it comes to Iraq, the Left is dizzying.  Are these not the same people who said that if Lynndie England was walking a naked Iraqi prisoner around like a dog on a leash, she simply must have been acting on orders from Don Rumsfeld, if not Bush himself?  Now, the mullahs' own militia, formed for the purpose of exporting the Islamic revolution, is caught red-handed exporting the Islamic revolution to Iraq, and the Left's response is to ask whether we can really be sure the mullahs put them up to it? 

And the White House press corps, which last year wanted to know how come no high-ranking administration officials had been made to walk the plank over Abu Ghraib is today found pressing Bush about whether Quds terror is really Iranian terror?


Posted on 02/14/2007 2:59 PM by Andy McCarthy
Wednesday, 14 February 2007
Turkey's Precarious Position
“…[Turkish Foreign Minister] Gül said that, in the case that the [Armenian] bill is accepted at the House of Representatives, there will be ‘a real shock in Turkey' and that the Turkish government could not contain the demands by the public to halt cooperation with the United States…” (Hürriyet Web site, Feb. 08). --from this news item

The so-called Kemalist Revolution -- that is, the putting of systematic restraints on Islam as a political and social system, lasted roughly a quarter-century, from 1925-1949. When Menderes came in in 1950, the counter-revolution began, with the dervish orders re-emerging, and a campaign of government mosque-building, and other measures that answered the demands of the mass of primitive Believers who then, and now, make up most of Turkey's population. In 1955 came the attacks on the Greek community of Istanbul (see Speros Vryonis, "The Mechanism of Catastrophe"). The Americans failed to comprehend or to worry. After all, Turkey was a member of CENTO (which lasted, mostly as figment of American and British imagination, until 1958, when the overturning of the Iraqi regime by Col. Qassem changed everything).

Secularist Turks, advanced westernized Turks, the Turks who are the kind of Turks one meets abroad, or meets in fashionable gatherings in Istanbul (and fails to see, much less read the minds of, all those other Turks who wait on you, or wait on the secularized westernized Turks who are your hosts), do not represent Turkey. They represent a part of Turkey. Perhaps they represent as much as a quarter of the population. But not more. And they will lose, lose unless they do more to protect, and to constantly expand, the Kemalist undertaking. And that means as well being willing to rely on the army, that protector of the flame in Ankara, the one at Ataturk's tomb, the one that is at the centre of the narrative woven of the Great Man, and the Great People, intended to supplement or even to supplant the narrative of Islam.

As for Gul's threat, he seems not to realize that the need for Turkey now is not what it was once perceived to be. Russia is no longer a military threat. The listening posts, the airfields, are only of value if they can be used against the forces of Islam. If they cannot be, and so far they haven't been (that fourth division was not allowed to enter Iraq from the north, from those American bases in Turkey -- so what good are those bases, they must be asking themselves in the Pentagon, if they cannot be used as we will obviously be needing to use them).

Turkey's significance to American plans has gone way down. Turkey's behavior --- its willingness to allow the crudest anti-American and antisemitic books and movies ("Valley of Wolves"), and for its political figures not merely to oppose the war in Iraq (good god, I oppose the war in Iraq) but also to depict the American soldiers as "worse than Nazis," has not gone unnoticed, and will not be forgotten, here.

Abdullah Gul has it all wrong. It is Turkey that should be trembling. Turkey that should be doing everything it now can to placate the Americans. It is Turkey that will not be allowed into the E.U. It is Turkey that needs American guarantees in the future chaos and confusion that will inevitably result -- thank God -- from the inevitable American withdrawal from Tarbaby Iraq.

He should get it right, or be replaced.


Because he doesn't understand the precarious position of Turkey today.

But he will.

Posted on 02/14/2007 3:11 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 14 February 2007
Three Little Words

That today deserves special comment no one can deny. It is the day when three little words that mean so much to so many are on everyone’s lips, or at least on the lips of all the radio announcers, some uttering them slowly, with special emphasis on the middle word, the key word, the word that  gives the whole thing its ineffable meaning, while others read those three little words with quiet heartfelt dignity, as befits the occasion, and still others, realizing that the allotted time for their sentiment is limited, race through it so as to make sure they get the whole pitch in, as if they are transmitting a word from their sponsors, which in a sense they are, and so we have heard those three little words, so many hundreds of times, beginning a few days ago, and they have had their intended effect.


Special purchases are made specially for this special day, prompted by repetition of those three little words. What would Hallmark Cards, what would American Greetings -- which William Simon bought twenty years ago in a leveraged buyout, and then with a group of fellow investors took private --be worth, without those three little words, today? How would sales of boxes of chocolates fare, those chocolates no longer limited to the humble Fanny Farmer of my American youth, but now including all kinds of once-exotic entries, those gold-wrapped Ferrero Rocher, so often have stacked right near the checkout-counter, or further up the phylogenetic scale of cioccolatini, those kiss-mottoed silver-wrapped baci Perugina? Or even a bar of bitter dark chocolate, the kind that is now mentioned, along with long walks in Tuscany and biking on the Vineyward, by the person who is beautiful inside and out, who is equally at home in blue jeans and Dolce & Gabbana, who adores evenings out at Sushi Rok or Nobu or Bouley's, but also likes a bouillabaisse at home and just cuddling by the fire, in one of those personal ads by which in that advertisement-for-myself, that "ex-academic turned entrepreneur" with that charming smile and slender figure,  must collapse an entire universe of likes and dislikes, real or feigned, into a hundred or two hundred words of semaphoring to that not impossible he, that distant prince or cavalier, the one who has to have that indispensable  sense of humor, that  sense of mischievous fun, and as befits a sturdy prince,  is also "emotionally and financially secure.”



Someone might well ask what would happen, on this day, without those three little words? What would happen to all those flower markets in our great metropolises which receive, the night before, or even in the early morning of, St. Valentine’s Day, those roses, roses, roses all the way from Colombia or some other grower’s paradise in sunny South America, from which those roses, qui ce matin auraient dû déclos  or éclos–we’ll just have to let Ronsard’s transitive verb become intransitive, if you don’t mind  too terribly -- and having done so, are swiftly cut by dozens of workers, then stacked by the tens or even hundreds of thousands, and gathered, and wrapped en masse, and shipped by air to to the flower markets of the Colossus of the North, and once there, distributed to florists and grocery stores, where they are traditionally bought by men of all kinds for women of all kinds, especially wives and mothers and significant if-I-had-my-druthers, including that girl with the weapons-grade smile who has just started in your department –don’t deny it, you know exactly whom I mean.



The priest St. Valentin, Love’s Martyr, conducting his secret nuptials for those Roman couples, and Edmund Spenser, who in “The Faerie Queen” declares that “roses are red, violets are blue,” blended and then distilled over centuries. During those same centuries, until recently, the sentiments were taken from proverb lore and folk-sayings and nursery-rhymes. They were, in other words, plucked from the communal air. They were free, the legacy of everyone and no one, but not of someone. And when that blend of Spenser and St. Valentin at long last became the magic love potion, the potion that could transmute the base metal of sentimentality into the gold of paper money, we had what we have today: St. Valentine’s Day. 


But why should we complain? Where would we be without those mental-labor-saving-devices, those pre-fabricated sentiments– say, here’s one for $4.00, which is high but after all, it is a pop-up, and the punch-line is funny, amazing how those Chinese graphics have gotten so good -- - that spare us the effort of ringing changes on feeling, or having to find words to express feeling, and where would we be without those word-less carriers of meaning, those stuffed animals, potentially-picnicking teddy bears or curious-george monkeys, or cuddly lambs --see “The Semiotics of Sentiment” in  that well-known anthology edited by Jakobson, Eco, and Sebeok – such as this one right here from Rumania, and this other one from Bangladesh (thank god they’re not all manufactured in China) – carriers of meaning, wordless or with those pre-fabricated words, based on the tested belief that many will say “them’s my sentiments exactly” and let their cards do the talking,  all part of an industrial- strength holiday that is the St. Valentine’s Day we enjoy today. And if you can only hold on, and persuade your beloved to listen to a different drummer and wait until evening, then you can have a late-night , private St. Valentine’s Day because tonight, round about seven or eight or possibly nine, those cards and stuffed animals will go on sale, at 75% off.


The whole dizzying edifice, of flowers and cards and chocolates and Care Bears wearing ribbons depends on three little words, the words that have been ringing in your ears after those sussurations over several days by those whose duty it is to tell you what to think, and what to feel, and what to do about what you have been told to think and to feel, for the upcoming St. Valentine’s Day, that Day which has now, at long last, undeniably come.


Those Three Little Words?


You know already know them.


We all do.


Take the first word from the first three paragraphs above, and put them together.


That. Special. Someone.


What would this day be without those Three Little Words? 

Posted on 02/14/2007 3:16 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 14 February 2007
And Tiffany

That was silly. Silly and obvious. What could be more obvious than mocking the chocolates and flowers of harmless and inoffensive St. Valentine’s Day. Little children like it. They draw valentines for each other, or trade those cheap cards in school, and their mothers make sure that every kid gives every other kid a valentine, so no one feels alone, unloved,  left out. They draw them for their mommies. And for their brothers, and their sisters.  You were a child once. Don’t you remember? Why should anyone make fun of any of that?


And your attack on boughten sentiments, those cards and stuffed animals, is worse than the thing it purports to to mock. It somehow assumes that we can go back in time, to the days of the Skimmington Ride and the Dunmow Flitch, and all those Opie-collected nursery rhymes in the days when Christmas meant trees that had not yet traded their tinsel souls for a mess of wattage, and sleigh-bells really rang, and not a penny changed hands. But that was then. This is now. We live in the present. We work in the dark. We do what we can. What is so terrible about buying a bouquet of flowers, or perhaps a nice cyclamen plant that will keep on blooming year after year? What is so deplorable about buying a sweetie those baci Perugina, unless of course the intended recipient has had a triple-bypass and wishes to avoid another one? 


What’s next, Mr. Smartypants? Bewail the commercialization of Christmas? Attack television for being “mindless”? Inform us that you “abhor extremism whether of right or left”? Write about some friend of yours who, you will be careful to note, “just happens to be black”? Is that how stupid you wish to be? Is that the swamp in which you intend to swim? When there is unwonted coarseness in your writing about Islam, we understand, and we forgive. The propagandist or pedagogue must, in these days, if wishing to reach a large audience, necessarily self-coarsen, and grin, and bear its excruciating pain.


But here there is no such excuse. Did you really think that a riff on “Three Little Words” was clever? You had an idea, and then, as with so many others, the idea had you.. At Oxford colleges, when certain subjects, deemed inappropriate for mealtime conversation,-- politics, women, Fustel de Coulanges – are raised, the raiser has a fine imposed on him, and must contribute a mite to a fund which will in the future fill a “sconce” or jug full of future beer. It’s an idea that should be extended to cover more matter, and more kinds of manner..


I expected better. I allow myself to believe that you now realize it was beneath you. But at least for me, you are no longer “That Special Someone.” Not for the rest of this sweet, innocent, and perfectly acceptable day. 


Posted on 02/14/2007 3:26 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 14 February 2007
Complainte du progrès

by Boris Vian

Autrefois pour faire sa cour
On parlait d'amour
Pour mieux prouver son ardeur
On offrait son coeur
Aujourd'hui, c'est plus pareil
Ça change, ça change
Pour séduire le cher ange
On lui glisse à l'oreille
(Ah? Gudule!)

{Refrain 1:}
Viens m'embrasser
Et je te donnerai
Un frigidaire
Un joli scooter
Un atomixer
Et du Dunlopillo
Une cuisinière
Avec un four en verre
Des tas de couverts
Et des pell' à gâteaux

Une tourniquette
Pour fair' la vinaigrette
Un bel aérateur
Pour bouffer les odeurs

Des draps qui chauffent
Un pistolet à gaufres
Un avion pour deux
Et nous serons heureux

Autrefois s'il arrivait
Que l'on se querelle
L'air lugubre on s'en allait
En laissant la vaisselle
Aujourd'hui, que voulez-vous
La vie est si chère
On dit: rentre chez ta mère
Et l'on se garde tout
(Ah! Gudule)

{Refrain 2:}
Ou je reprends tout ça.
Mon frigidaire
Mon armoire à cuillères
Mon évier en fer
Et mon poêl' à mazout
Mon cire-godasses
Mon repasse-limaces
Mon tabouret à glace
Et mon chasse-filous

La tourniquette
A faire la vinaigrette
Le ratatine-ordures
Et le coupe-friture

Et si la belle
Se montre encore rebelle
On la fiche dehors
Pour confier son sort

Au frigidaire
À l'efface-poussière
À la cuisinière
Au lit qu'est toujours fait
Au chauffe-savates
Au canon à patates
À l'éventre-tomates
À l'écorche-poulet

Mais très très vite
On reçoit la visite
D'une tendre petite
Qui vous offre son coeur

Alors on cède
Car il faut bien qu'on s'entraide
Et l'on vit comme ça
Jusqu'à la prochaine fois
Posted on 02/14/2007 3:33 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 14 February 2007
Re: Mass murder in SLC

If they are hunting infidels in Utah, they are hunting them everywhere. 

—They?— you ask.

—What were they drinking?—you ask.

—Why?—you ask.

Good questions.  Read and donate to NER and you will be blessed with an abundance of answers for as long as we here are not prevented by the coming sharia law the adherents of Islam seek to bring to you and yours.

But here's one of mine for "you":  Do you believe in self-preservation?

And one for Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney:  What's the Mormon spin on the Utah Slaughter

(I know the last one sounds harsh, but a Giuliani could handle one like it without missing a beat.)

Posted on 02/14/2007 3:34 PM by Robert Bove
Wednesday, 14 February 2007
For Gae

Veggio negli occhi de la donna mia

Un lume pien di spiriti d’amore,

che porta uno piacer novo nel core,

sit che vi desta de’allegressa vita.

 ~ Cavalcanti


I see in my Lady’s eyes

A light full of the spirit of Love

That brings a new spirit to my heart

Awakening there a cheerful life.

 ~ a prosaic translation


In your eyes I see reflected

my love for you

—and see that you see mine.

 ~ my rough take

Posted on 02/14/2007 4:12 PM by Robert Bove
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