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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 Monday, 16, 2007.
Monday, 16 April 2007
MI5 adopts paedophile-tracking tactics for Muslim extremists
From The Times
MI5 is adopting tactics used by the police to keep tabs on paedophiles and other sex offenders to monitor the activities of known or suspected Islamic extremists, The Times has learnt.
The threat from radicalised young Muslims is growing at such a rate that MI5 has realised that it needs the help of police officers on the streets to help it keep a check on extremists in their areas.
The police keep track of known paedophiles by collating sightings of them and noting whom they meet and which areas they frequent — a tactic that MI5 sees as ideal for keeping track of the movements of Islamic extremists.
Thousands of police officers on the beat in areas with large Pakistani communities — such as Birmingham, Leeds and London — will be expected to keep a lookout for young Muslims known to have become radicals. The information gathered from day-to-day observations will be used to compile a comprehensive database of lower-level extremism. This register will help both MI5 and the police.
However, there are thousands of other radicalised young Muslims from countries such as Pakistan, North Africa and Somalia about whom there is no intelligence linking them to terrorist groups.
Because of limited resources, they are not regarded as a priority for MI5 when there are so many others who are known to be affiliated to terrorist networks in Britain and, in many cases, actually to be plotting attacks. The fear is that young Muslims who are being radicalised may be persuaded to support the cause of the terrorists.
MI5 has built up an extensive archive of extremist activities, according to security sources. But its surveillance officers have time to focus only on those posing a terrorist threat.
Security sources say that monitoring extremists is only part of the drive to deal with the growing challenge of a younger generation of Muslims, most of them of Pakistani origin, being suborned into supporting terrorism.
This is a highly sensitive issue, especially as Muslim leaders have accused MI5 and the police of using all their resources to spy on their communities.
Both MI5 and the police insist they want clerics and other Muslim leaders to help them to stamp out extremism and actively seek their cooperation. The security sources said that it was a matter for individual police forces to decide how to prioritise their resources in keeping track of Islamic extremists. But the aim was to enable the police in their areas to know of the whereabouts of extremists.
“This is a new approach and we hope that police officers will understand that the job of countering terrorism and extremism is not just for MI5 and the police special branch but can be carried out by traditional police methods,” one security source said.
The Government has stopped using the phrase “War on Terror”, Hilary Benn, the International Development Secretary said last night.
Mr Benn said in New York that the phrase — coined by the White House after the September 11 attacks — strengthened small groups with differing aims by making them feel part of something “bigger”.
In the UK, we do not use the phrase ‘War on Terror',” he said, “because we can’t win by military means alone, and because this isn’t us against one organised enemy with a clear identity and a coherent set of objectives.”
As someone else pointed out, terror is merely a tactic, not the enemy in itself. 
Posted on 04/16/2007 3:39 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Monday, 16 April 2007
Arctic mosque stays open but Muslim numbers shrink
A quick glimpse of the headline, “Arctic mosque stays open but Muslim numbers shrink” I read as “Muslim members shrink”.  
Smacked wrist, naughty, naughty.
NORILSK, Russia (Reuters) - Mukum Sidikov's grandfather left Norilsk after surviving the labor camps of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin. Sidikov, caretaker of the world's most northerly mosque, retraced his grandfather's footsteps in search of well-paid work in the Russian Arctic.
Now he estimates the city is home to about 50,000 Muslims -- just under one-quarter of the region's population of about 210,000. Most are from Azerbaijan and the Russian republic of Dagestan and work as traders or construction workers. The population is getting smaller. People are leaving," said Sidikov, 40, an ethnic Uzbek born and raised in Kyrgyzstan.
The Nurd Kamal mosque stands exposed on the edge of modern Norilsk, where temperatures drop 50 degrees Celsius below zero (-58 degrees Fahrenheit). Polar winds whip its golden roof and snowdrifts pile against the turquoise walls in winter.
A city built on one of the world's richest metals deposits, Norilsk's first smelter was built by Gulag prisoners in the 1930s and today three plants send smoke thick with sulphur into the air. The city was last year named among the world's 10 most polluted places by independent environmental action group The Blacksmith Institute.
There are many Muslims, but few come to the mosque. They work all day and in the evening they are tired," Sidikov said.
The mosque, opened in 1998, was built by Mukhtad Bekmeyev, an ethnic Tatar and Norilsk native now residing in the Black Sea city of Sochi, nearly 4,000 km (2,500 miles) away. He named the mosque after his parents.
Sidikov says nothing specific is being done to help Muslims. But Norilsk's Muslims, he says, have integrated well into the wider community and suffer little discrimination.
Over generations, some arrivals from Russia's Caucasus regions have converted to Orthodox Christianity, residents say.
Sidikov keeps the mosque open late every evening for those still wishing to study the Koran. About 500 to 600 people typically show for Friday prayers. "Muslims should come to the mosque at least once a week. We don't get that here."
I have pondered this before about the Muslims of Norway and Sweden. The ramadan fast is that nothing may be consumed during the hours of daylight, sunrise to sunset. The month of ramadan, on a lunar calendar moves through the year of the solar calendar. Fasting during daylight in an arctic winter is no problem. Fasting for a month in daylight in an arctic summer, when the sun does not set for two months is likely to prove very interesting. I'm sure their strict principles will have to undergo some adjustment or they will die of dehydration on day 3.
Posted on 04/16/2007 4:38 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Monday, 16 April 2007
ROFLMAO :-) :-) :-)

While I can harrumph with the best of pedants about "may" and "might" or the greengrocer's apostrophe, I don't feel strongly about emoticons. As with the shorthand used in texting, context is all. (Con-text - deconstruct that word.) I would never type C U L8R in an email, but I would certainly text it because it is quick. I suspect that none of the old fogeys predicting the end of civilisation because of a str84wd txt mssge objects to telegrams. Both contain short forms of English and are suited to their purpose. It's just that telegraph boys whistled, doffed their caps and called them "guv'nor" while texting teenagers slouch in their hoodies and say "whatev-ah". 

I don't use emoticons myself, either in texts or email/internet contexts, but I don't object to them if it is clear that the writer is in a hurry, and the mood may be misunderstood otherwise. I tend to see emails as informal letters, and when I post comments on a blog, they are usually proper sentences. For many younger people, however, email and blog posting are more akin to speech than to writing, except that you can't smile or put a smile in your voice.  In those circumstances, emoticons are acceptable.

So who first came up with the idea of the emoticon? Was it some semi-literate, spotty teenager in a back-to-front baseball cap? No, it was Vladimir Nabokov. LOL :-) :-) Like his product placement, and his exclamation marks, this came as a surprise!! Tom Cox in The Sunday Times:

Not long ago, while on the MySpace website promoting my latest book :-), I had a disagreement with a complete stranger :-(. Suffice to say it was one of those that happens in cyberspace where communication is hurried and irony tricky to convey ;-). In fact a recent survey in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that while 90% of people who receive e-mails think they’ve interpreted their tone correctly only 50% actually have.

As of the time of writing I am yet to use an emoticon in an e-mail or a text message. I know this probably puts me in the minority, but I am hoping that the above paragraph goes at least some way to explaining the reasons for my resistance.

Who knows: perhaps the little symbols (meaning, respectively, “happy”, “unhappy”, “wink”) I have added enhance your understanding. On the other hand you might, like me, see them as a superfluous affectation.


Emoticons — or smileys as they’re sometimes known — are, in theory, another way of softening the frequently harsh and humour-deficient art of cyber chat. Their precise genesis is a cause for debate.

As far back as 1969 Vladimir Nabokov suggested there should be a typographical sign for a smile, but the invention of the :-) and :-( symbols to respectively denote jokes and nonjokes is most widely credited to a computer boffin called Scott Fahlman in 1982.

A smile oils the exchange. As an eBay antiques dealer friend of mine told me recently when I moaned about smiley culture to her: “I sometimes use smileys just to show that I’m being good natured when there’s no other way to do so.”

Two weeks ago computer scientists at Pittsburgh University announced they had developed software enabling people to replace emoticons with a selection of their own real facial expressions. But wouldn’t it be easier just to construct a few articulate sentences and leave it at that?


When I was growing up, some oldies moaned about my friends and I occasionally using words such as “wicked”, “skill” and “cool”. Emoticons and cyber abbreviations like lol (“laugh out loud”, to the blissfully ignorant) have created a much bigger gap in communication. For a concept that’s supposed to simplify and humanise they’re surprisingly elitist.

The physical equivalent of a text message from a heavy emoticon user is not so much a handshake or a high-five as an impromptu display of karate or an advanced game of rock, paper, scissors utilising a variety of mineral matter and the stock of a nearby stationery superstore.

Posted on 04/16/2007 5:08 AM by Mary Jackson
Monday, 16 April 2007
Is Tom Tancredo the only Jacksonian in Washington?

More importantly, are there any Jacksonians outside the District?  It appears so—in Europe. 

From Conservative Swede's contribution to a leisurely discussion with the Baron regarding where Wilsonian politics has gotten us, a prediction:

But we are headed for the moment when the perception of the idyllic order will break apart in Europe, followed by the illusion of the imperial protective shield along with the system of modern democracy. This will be a truly revolutionary moment. The awakened Europeans will not only have the Muslims against them, in this fight, but their own political elites, leftist storm troopers, and a Wilsonian Uncle Sam. Bush II would have reacted just like Clinton, had there been another Serbia in Europe. And so will Giuliani or Hillary (let’s hope for Tom Tancredo in 2012).

It will start with street wars, then civil wars in one or two European countries—maybe in England and Holland, where we have already seen unrest caused by “white hooligans”. It will spread like wildfire over most of Western Europe. Next we will see extensive migrations within Europe. White people will flee to countries such as Poland, while the Muslims will escape to countries such as France. Mid 21st century, Europe will look like a chess board, now in a situation of more conventional warfare. We will see Europeans building city walls around their traditional cities, but for the first time in history to protect the country side from the cities.

… I hope and pray there’s not another Wilsonian president in office when this get started.

Posted on 04/16/2007 5:43 AM by Robert Bove
Monday, 16 April 2007
On the subject of samites and watery bints.
From Monty Python and the Holy Grail.  Scene 3.
ARTHUR: I am your king!
WOMAN: Well, I didn't vote for you.
ARTHUR: You don't vote for kings.
WOMAN: Well, how did you become King, then?
ARTHUR: The Lady of the Lake,...
[angels sing]
...her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite, held aloft Excalibur from the bosom of the water signifying by Divine Providence that I, Arthur, was to carry Excalibur.
[singing stops]
That is why I am your king!
DENNIS: Listen. Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.
ARTHUR: Be quiet!
DENNIS: Well, but you can't expect to wield supreme executive power just 'cause some watery tart threw a sword at you!
ARTHUR: Shut up!
DENNIS: I mean, if I went 'round saying I was an emperor just because some moistened bint had lobbed a scimitar at me, they'd put me away!
ARTHUR: Shut up, will you? Shut up!
DENNIS: Ah, now we see the violence inherent in the system.
ARTHUR: Shut up!
DENNIS: Oh! Come and see the violence inherent in the system! Help! Help! I'm being repressed!
ARTHUR: Bloody peasant!
DENNIS: Oh, what a give-away. Did you hear that? Did you hear that, eh? That's what I'm on about. Did you see him repressing me? You saw it, didn't you?
Posted on 04/16/2007 7:05 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Monday, 16 April 2007
A Muslim Refutation

Very funny YouTube (denouncing Robert Spencer and Ibn Warraq). Two thumbs up.

First, he declares that, Robert Spencer, along with Ibn Warraq and Salman Rushdie, is an ex-Muslim from India. This may come as a surprise to those who know Robert, but we'll keep a secret.

Then he purports to offer a "refutation" and one waits, and waits, but no refutation is forthcoming. Denunciation and dismissal, plenty of that, but no "refutation." Not a single word of Spencer's, or for that matter of the others, is entered into evidence. Not one. Perhaps there is a failure to communicate not only here, but with Muslims who come to this website, and indeed wherever they purport to "refute" but mean by "refutation" mere denunciation. It is as if the need to produce evidence, and to think logically, is unnecessary.

Finally, he tellingly says that Spencer, and Ibn Warraq, and these other "Indian ex-Muslims" are jealous of Arabs, because they don't know Arabic, and therefore cannot possibly read the Qur'an or understand it or the other canonical texts. And Arabic, says Obeid Kalki, is the best of languages, the one which Allah chose to have dictated, by the angel Gabriel, over 23 years (there were a few stops and starts), to an Arab, that is someone who belonged to the "best of people."

Fascinating to see his display, not so much of ignorance about Spencer's background and about the meaning of the word "refutation," but his display of Arab supremacism. These non-Arab "Indians" in his view cannot possibly understand Islam. And that surely means that even before they became, as he wrongly understands it, apostates from Islam, they could not have understood the belief-system. Only Arabs, apparently, with their knowledge of Arabic, can do that.

But the same goes, of course, for the 80% of the world's Muslims who are not Arabs. Obaid Kalki has just informed them that in his view they cannot possibly understand the Qur'an and the Hadith, because they are written in Arabic, wonderful impossible-to-translate Arabic.

Well, perhaps some of those non-Arabs who constitute 80% of the world's Muslims will begin to take the Arab hint, and drop Islam, for why remain locked into a faith, submissive to a God, whom the Arabs tell you you cannot possibly understand, because you are incapable of reading the texts.

Posted on 04/16/2007 7:11 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 16 April 2007
Sadr Bloc Withdraws From Iraq Gov't - Want US Out

BAGHDAD (AFP) (with thanks to Jeffrey Imm): - Radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr pulled his six ministers out of Iraq's beleaguered coalition government on Monday as he pushed his demand for a rapid withdrawal of US troops from the country.

The Shiite hardliner -- who has not been seen in public since October -- was angered last week when street protests failed to persuade Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to set a timeline for American forces to go home.

Sadr's bloc is the largest single political group in Maliki's fragmenting coalition, but the prime minister will be able to cling to power if he keeps the support of smaller Shiite and Kurdish groups.

Lawmaker Nassar al-Rubaie from Sadr's movement, flanked by allies from his 32-strong parliamentary bloc, announced the withdrawal at a Baghdad news conference, reading a statement from the cleric.

"The six ministries shall be handed over to the government itself in the hope that this government will give these responsibilities to independent bodies who wish to serve the interest of the people and the country," it said.

Rubaie explained the reasons behind the move.

"The main reasons are the prime minister's lack of response to the demands of nearly one million people in Najaf asking for the withdrawal of US forces and the deterioration in security and services," he said.

Posted on 04/16/2007 9:01 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Monday, 16 April 2007
Sense and Nonsense

If we bring "freedom" to the "ordinary moms and dads" in Iraq, and if in exercising that "freedom" the newly-empowered Shi'a Arabs enrage Sunni Arabs, both those in Anbar Province (and some in Baghdad, (but with the emptying out of Baghdad of its Sunni Arabs, they now constitute a mere 15% of the total present population of Baghdad) and those in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, won't this -- according to Cheney and Bush and Rice and all those very loyal, unquestioning generals who apparently can be brave, one assumes, on battlefields but nowhere else -- make things better, in Kashmir and in Gaza, in Paris and Amsterdam and London and in the Caucasus and in the Balkans, and indeed in the distant Philippines?

Isn't that what the Iraq venture is all about? Making the world safe for Infidels, by bringing "freedom" and an Instant Makeover, Political and Economic and Every-Which Way. Why the brand-new Iraqi Constitution itself took a whole four or five weeks to write, and with such knowledgeable "experts" as Noah Friedman, how could it fail to achieve the desired results?

So don't worry about southern Thailand, or Darfur, or riots in Malmo or murders in Amsterdam, or those 70,000 Filipinos moving about because of the Jihad declared in the southern Philippines. Those American troops, sent in ever-increasing and increasingly unwilling numbers, and the hundreds of billions of dollars expended so far in Iraq, makes all kinds of sense.

If only someone knew, had the slightest idea, were able to describe intelligently or name, even one kind of sense the Iraq War, at this point, supposedly makes.

Posted on 04/16/2007 12:05 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 16 April 2007

A couple of days late, but I just noticed that Friday would have been Lance Sijan's 65th birthday. 

Posted on 04/16/2007 12:27 PM by John Derbyshire
Monday, 16 April 2007
Bone Idle
For some reason, this story from the London Telegraph struck me as very sad—and, in some way I haven't yet figured out, portentous. 
The phenomenon of NEETs (young people "not in education, employment or training") is on the rise.  More than 1.2 million 16- to 24-year-olds in England, Scotland and Wales - almost a fifth of the age group - are spending their time doing literally nothing, according to a study published last week. Among their ranks are the troubled, the badly educated, and the feckless and work-shy. In the 16 to 19 age bracket, 11 per cent are classed as Neets - double the proportion in Germany and France.  
Britain's Labor government has been busy as all get out for a decade now with publicly-funded schemes for training, further education, and "attempts to push youngsters towards a more productive and useful life."  These efforts, says the Telegraph report, have
proved ... costly and ineffective.  More than half [of the youngsters enrolled] fail to finish government apprenticeships. A £100 million reward-card scheme, which encouraged members to stay on by giving them 'loyalty points,' has been scrapped after an evaluation found that it was a flop. The £500 million education maintenance allowance, which pays up to £30 a week to 400,000 youngsters from low-income families in school or college, while hailed as a success, has not had a major impact on the UK's 70 per cent staying-on rate, which remains one of the lowest in Europe.
It is, I believe, a fundamental fact about human life that most of us, given the opportunity, would be bone idle.  History offers plenty of evidence for this.  In almost every country, in almost every age, there has been a class of people who could live without doing any useful work.  Guess what?  They did.  There were of course honorable exceptions.  Charles Darwin could have got through life doing nothing at all; likewise the mathematician Edmund Landau, who was a famously hard worker.  I think National Review's own founder belongs on this roll of honor, too.  If you survey the massed ranks of the English aristocracy, though, or the offspring of American plutocrats (though there is a bit more to be said there), most of them spent their lives in play—or, like these young NEETs, in nothing at all.
From Mrs. Thrale's Anecdotes of Dr. Johnson:
The vacuity of Life had at some early Period of his Life perhaps so struck upon the Mind of Mr Johnson, that it became by repeated Impression his favourite hypothesis, & the general Tenor of his reasonings commonly ended in that.  The Things therefore which other Philosophers attribute to various & contradictory Causes, appeared to him uniform enough; all was done to fill up the Time upon his Principle.  One Man for example was profligate, followed the Girls or the Gaming Table,—Why Life must be filled up Madam, & the Man was capable of nothing less Sensual.  Another was active in the management of his Estate & delighted in domestick Oeconomy:  Why a Man must do something, & what so easy to a narrow mind as hoarding halfpence until they turn into Silver?  a Third was conspicuous for maternal Tenderness, and spent her youth in caressing or instructing her Children—Enquire however before you commend, cries he; & you will probably perceive that either her want of health or Fortune prevented her from tasting the Pleasures of the World:  I once talked to him of a Gentleman who loved his Friend—He has nothing else to do, replies Johnson; Make him prime Minister, & see how long his Friend will be remembered.
Posted on 04/16/2007 12:30 PM by John Derbyshire
Monday, 16 April 2007
The First Amendment: A Temporary Tool

"Activists should also frame their objectives in language that Americans embrace. "Most Americans identify with concepts such as 'justice,' 'self-determination,' 'human rights' and 'democracy,' " the guide explains. "These terms will be constructive when delivering your message, regardless of the issue."
-- from this Muslim website that instructs its members in how to make demands, in an Infidel society, that will remove all perceived obstacles to the spread of Islam and will make help to expand its presence and its power, whatever this does to the involvement or promotion of one religion over another (and making special accommodations of the kind Muslims are demanding, by any institution that is dependent on taxpayers' money, would violate the spirit and letter of the First Amendment, rightly construed, even if one were to concede -- I don't -- that Islam is to be called, without more, a "religion" rather than, more correctly, as something far more than a religion, a Total Belief System with an all-encompassing politics or rather geopolitics.

One can find on-line all sorts of Muslim websites carefully giving advice on how to deal with teachers, and then principals (even as to the usefulness of inviting them to share a Muslim meal), in what is not an individual effort, but a systematic attempt to change the nature of public schools, no matter what violence is done to the First Amendment principles, not only the law but the penumbra of the law, of the, for Muslims, entirely uninteresting and unimpressive and irrelevant (save when it can be used as a weapon) document, one the principles of which flatly contradict those of Islam, therefore making it, in Muslim eyes, essentially a tool for temporary use, but nothing more.

Posted on 04/16/2007 12:41 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 16 April 2007
Shire Network News From Zimbabwe

Podcast asks the world what it will do about Mugabe

Live from a hidden location in Zimbabwe comes this week's interview with The Zimbabwean Pundit whose blog can be found here. We've had to disguise his voice because speaking out in Zimbabwe can get your head smashed in.

Posted on 04/16/2007 12:47 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Monday, 16 April 2007
Could the U.S. Attorneys Controversy Veer Into an Immigration Controversy?
This article from the LATimes today suggests that immigration — and unfunded policy mandates over it — may be a real undercurrent in AG Gonzales's testimony tomorrow.  Essentially, it suggests that some of the fired U.S. attorneys fell out of favor due to failures to be aggressive enough on immigration enforcement, but that perhaps the administration has good reason not to want to press that point too far (i.e., as a "performance-based" reason for the firings) because, the U.S. attorneys countered, the Justice Department (and, derivatively, the administration) did not provide adequate resources to carry out an aggressive enforcement policy.  That is, the U.S. attorneys flap may be careening into the immigration debate in a way that will not be useful to advocates of "comprehensive immigration reform" whose burden is to convince the public that the government is serious about border enforcement.

All this also goes to the natural tensions I addressed here a few weeks ago between an administration's enforcement policy directives and the situation on the ground confronted by each individual U.S. attorney in his or her district.  It also underscores that these are inherently political matters.  Consequently, it's absurd for the Washington Post, among others, to keep running headlines like this one today:  "Poll:  Most Say Politics Motivated U.S. Attorney Firings."  You might as well announce:  Poll:  Most Americans Say Tuesday follows Monday. 

The real issue here isn't whether the firings were "political" — all U.S. attorney hirings and firings are political.  That's the nature of the beast.  As far as impropriety (as opposed to competence) is concerned, the question is:  Were the firings motivated by a desire to affect pending or prospective cases in a corrupt manner.  There is is zilch evidence that Justice did such a thing despite thousands of disclosed documents and hours upon hours of testimony and interviews with key players. 

Posted on 04/16/2007 12:50 PM by Andy McCarthy
Monday, 16 April 2007
Virginia Tech Massacre

The shooter is dead, possibly by suicide (the reports are still murky), but he killed at least 22 people on campus (Fox says 32, ABC news says 29 and reports there were two bomb threats last week). He is reported to be "Asian." His name has not been released.

Wikipedia is all over it.

Posted on 04/16/2007 1:13 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Monday, 16 April 2007
Reflections on Race Week
Posted on 04/16/2007 1:51 PM by John Derbyshire
Monday, 16 April 2007
Drift and Spindrift

“I sometimes use smileys just to show that I’m being good natured when there’s no other way to do so.” [an antiques dealer, quoted here]

Oh dear. I wouldn't knowingly give my custom, or anything else,  to someone who used emoticons, and especially that insufferably treacly smile, to do her talking for her. Surely one should be able, through words alone, even if those words are only written and not spoken, to indicate that one is "good natured," which one wishes to convey to would-be clients in perhaps too premeditated a fashion, by way of signalling to a would-be buyer that one may  "goodnaturedly" agree to take less than the enormous sum initially  demanded or pay a little more to a would-be seller for a piece than the trifling sum that was first offered. has been offered for sale.

Spoken language can, but need not be, aided by  grimaces and other kinds of body language which include Scrubsian shrugs and smiles, Groucho-Marxian leeringly raised eyebrows,  Pninian carpalistics, and let's go all the way, to the celebrated Sharonstonian uncrossing of legs, which uncrossing  can be accompanied, if necessary, by the telling sound effects of a scarcely audible come-hithering crepitation from the scarcely visible affected parts. But in language that is written, third-grade emoticons being mass produced in the factory of false feeling, heartfelt nothings in the age of opto-electronic reproduction, of what might be called corporal suprasegmental features of languages, including those venerable aspects known to every schoolboy, especially if those schoolboys are named Trager and Smith and Roman Jakobson, as those of stress and pitch.  

Words by themselves on the page can do the trick, without aritificial aids, can be made to perform any trick, as long as the reader is intelligent enough to get the drift, and be pleasantly surprised while sprayed by the spindrift, of a writer up to the task.   

Posted on 04/16/2007 2:13 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 16 April 2007
Messina Contest Results

The sudden irruption of the Messina Earthquake of 1908 into the quiet confines of, was followed by the announcement, fittingly on fatidic Friday the 13th, of a contest:   



This contest consists of two parts: Art  (Question #1) and Life  (Question #2).

To wit:


What writer of the twentieth century has a passage in one of his books that mentions the Messina earthquake plays an important role, and what is that passage? 

Hint: Connoisseurs of twelve-tone technique, and of Groucho Marx will, in answering this question, have a leg up.  


What figure, a prominent early opponent of Fascism, lost his entire family in the Messina earthquake?  

Extra credit for those who make the appropriate connection between both answers and previous postings at New English Review.


Entries had to be received by 9 a.m. the following day. As it turned out, one entry came in within the first few hours, and it was a full and correct answer. However, even though there was nothing wrong with the entry, there may be for some the Appearance of Impropriety  because the entrant, Rebecca Bynum, is in charge of, and is indispensable to, the New English Review site.  

A second entry was received from someone who not connected to New English Review, its heirs and assigns, and is correct in many, if not all, respects – and the guesses too were worthy.  

Here is the answer supplied by that entrant:

1.  D.  H.  Lawrence wrote in The Kangaroo, chapter 8:

 " 'I feel it would probably be like Messina before and after
earthquake. Before the earthquake it was what is called
 a fine 
town, but commercial, low, and hateful. You felt you'd be
 glad if it was
 wiped out.
After the earthquake it was horrible heaps of mortar
 and rubble, 
and now it's rows and rows of wood and tin 
shanties, streets of 
them, and more commercial, lower than ever, 
and infinitely more ugly. That 
would probably be the world after your revolution.
 No, Jaz, I leave mankind
 to its own contrivances, and turn to the gods.' "
2.  Gaetano Salvemini was (later) an Italian antifascist 
who lost 
his family in the 1908 Messina earthquake.
Extra Cred?
 Sicilian earthquakes and antifascism:
 Hugh Fitzgerald once mentioned Salaparuta in an 
exchange with the
commenter, Morgan, concerning a posting which 
referred to several
 quoted statements about Islam, by Fosco Maraini 
(supplied by 
"a reader" -- me). 
Salaparuta, a town known for its wines on the 
west coast of
 Sicily (Messina is on the east coast of Sicily),
  was itself 
destroyed in another
Sicilian earthquake, in 1968. Salaparuta itself was 
apparently founded during the Arab occupation of
 Sicily, but that seems 
neither here, nor there.  Hugh mentioned Salaparuta for
 its wine and in
 probable  allusion to Dacia Maraini's mother, Topazia 
Alliata di Salaparuta, a
 member of an aristocratic family associated with
 Salaparuta, and the
 first wife of Dacia's father, Fosco Maraini. Fosco
 Maraini was an Italian 
ethnographer, mountaineer, writer and umano (by 
which I mean mensch).  
His 2004 obituary in the Guardian might be of
 interest, even if its source, 
The Guardian, is often repulsive:,12576,1239027,00.html
 A paragraph, from which, might also be another 
unwanted spark
 in  the
cross-Atlantic war of words: 
 "When his parents were away, he was obliged to forego his 
usual tasty Tuscan food for the cooking of an English 
aunt, who, as he 
recalled, "with Protestant acrimony" told them that
 "food should not be good".
 He said later that the experience taught him to be
 stoical even
 in culinary matters, an attitude that came in handy 
when he had to accept
 such meagre pittances as the rancid butter and dusty 
biscuits of a 
Tibetan monastery or the grim rations of a Japanese 
concentration camp."
Although no where near as political as Gaetano Salvemini, 
 Marainiwas also instinctively antifascist.  Following 
the fall of
 the Italian Fascist government, and most of Italy to the
 Allies, in 1943, 
the Maraini's were interned by the Japanese government,
 when they
 did not pledge the expected loyalty to the 
the Nazi puppet Fascist remnant in northern Italy.
  Maraini had been
 teaching at
Kyoto University in Japan.”
Comment by the Panel of Judges on the Entry Above:
1.       The answer to the second question first:  Correct. 
1908 Gaetano Salvemini held the Chair in History at 
the University in 
Messina. His wife and five children were all 
killed in the earthquake. He was 
an early opponent of Fascism, with friends 
in Giustizia e Liberta, 
the organization with which the Rosselli 
brothers were associated, and also
 others who joined them in exile in southern France, 
such as Sandro 
Pertini (later to become the President of Italy). 
Salvemini went to the United 
States, and became a professor of Italian history. 
While there he was 
befriended by Ruth Draper, and introduced her to his 
friend, Lauro de Bosis, a 
young poet (and son of Adolfo de Bosis, whose family
 intermarried with 
the Jewish Vivante family. When the racial laws came 
along, the Vivantes had to
 leave Italy. One son, Paolo Vivante, became a well-known
 professor of classics 
at McGill. Arturo Vivante became a well-known writer,
 in the Shawn days
 appearing at The New Yorker, and continues to write
 somewhere near Truro, 
on Cape Cod. 
2.      Now as to the answer to the first question. D. H. Lawrence did 
indeed mention the earthquake in Messina, as did other writers, 
including Kafka. It was the Lisbon Earthquake of its day. In order to 
narrow down the contestant’s range of  possibilities, right down to 
the very one, the only one, that would do for an answer I offered a 
hint: “Connoisseurs of twelve-tone technique, and of Groucho Marx 
will, in answering this question, have a leg up.”  


         The correct answer is Vladimir Nabokov, and the passage is from a


 of  Waindell College in "Pnin":

“Very evocative, too, were the oaken seats and hammer-beamed roof of

the chapel, a Romanesque structure that had been donated half a century ago by Julius Schonberg, wool manufacturer, brother of the world-famous Egyptologist Samuel Schonberg who perished in the Messina earthquake.”

The “Schonberg” of the twelve-tone technique, and the remark about Groucho, né Julius, Marx, both should clinch the argument for choosing that passage from “Pnin” as the correct one mentioning Messina, and Nabokov the right “twentieth-century writer.”

If Julius Schonberg was a wool manufacturer in America in the late nineteenth century (and well established by 1908, when he paid for his brother's trip to Egypt and Italy), his mills would have probably somewhere between the Pompanoosuc

and the Merrimac.  The most complete study on the wool industry in the United States is "American Wool Manufacture," by Dr. Arthur H. Cole, who in 1946

founded the Research Center for Entrepreneurial History at Harvard, which had offices located up some very rickety stairs, in an old and ramshackle building,

 with fireplaces in every office, that still stood into the 1960s at about 22 Massachusetts Avenue, right near Phillips Bookstore, with its excellent collection

of mathematical texts, and its bookmarks that you could help yourself to, and that came with two different mottoes ("There is no frigate like a book to take us lands away" and "A good book is the precious lifeblood of a master-spirit," Dickinson and Milton, together again at last) where now in a bleak concrete plaza the

body-pierced now linger and scream and fight, and a general depressing air of fake-carnivality prevails. Among Dr. Cole's colleagues at the Center, in the 1940s were several refugees from Hitler, including Joseph Schumpeter and Fritz Redlich, who arrived from Austria without even an overcoat.  Dr. Cole, whose chief interest was business history (the Cole Room at Harvard Business School, where "dynamic" and "innovative" professors offer clients, at great expense, their mountebank's patter) was an old-fashioned student of language a ses heures, and compiled

“The Charming Idioms of New England,” some of which charming idioms I have enjoyed using at this website.

What about Samuel Schonberg? Why is he, who dies in the Messina earthquake every time we read that sentence, described as an “Egyptologist”? For those ephemeral characters who must come alive in a handful of dustless words,

Nabokov chooses to endow them with arcane knowledge as a way of making

them memorable. One would have trouble remembering Samuel Schonberg if the phrase were  “brother of Samuel Schonberg, the historian” or “Samuel

Schonberg, the Milton scholar.” But "Samuel Schonberg, the Egyptologist, who died in the Messina earthquake" will not be forgotten. 

 A few years later, Nabokov would decorate Humbert Humbert’s family tree with still more arcane matters:

“My father was a gentle, easy-going person, a salad of racial genes, of mixed

French and Austrian descent, with a dash of the Danube in his veins. His father

and two stepfathers had sold wine, jewels, and silk, respectively. At the age of thirty he married an English girl, the daughter of Jerome Dunn, the Alpinist, and granddaughter of two Dorset parsons, experts in obscure subjects, Aeolian harps

and paleopedology, respectively.”

It's a trick, and it works.

Finally, contestants were asked if they could connect their answers to prior

postings at New English Review. The Non-Appearance-of-Impropriety Entry

focussed on the wine Salaparuta, and noted, correctly, that the wine was

mentioned in allusion to Fosco Maraini’ s mother’s Sicilian origins. But far more evident at New English Review are “Pnin” and  Nabokov.  Gaetano Salvemini was the one responsible for introducing Ruth Draper to Lauro de Bosis, and remained her lifelong friend. So one might note that Ruth Draper has had an entire  posting devoted to her at New English Review, and so has her English (though half-American) relative and fellow diseuse Joyce Grenfell.

In conclusion, “del” wins the prize as the eligible contestant with the mostest and the bestest, while Rebecca Bynum, despite her skill at following clues very cleverly cannot, because of that demmed Appearance-of-Imropriety problem receive such recognition, but still manages, and not only as a consolation prize, to take the cake.   

Posted on 04/16/2007 3:35 PM by Hugh Fitzerald
Monday, 16 April 2007
A jewel in the crown?
What a lovely name. In England “jewel” names are usually limited to Beryl or Ruby, (are Pearl and Coral jewels?) all of which have a rather elderly lady, plain and no nonsense feel. I am told that Esmerelda is Spanish for emerald but I don’t know if that is true. Ruby is having something of a renaissance for little girls but I have never met a Beryl under the age of 60. Even my childhood favourite Beryl the Peril of Topper comic sounded older than her suggested age.
The ruby is probably no less beautiful than the topaz. But Topazia Alliata di Salaparuta was, as Hugh says “a member of an aristocratic family associated with Salaparuta”
Ruby White, abbreviated to Rube, will forever be the cleaning lady friend of Florrie Capp.
Posted on 04/16/2007 4:33 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Monday, 16 April 2007
Active affinities
Big UK/US/Scandinavia confab here.  Interesting to see Gates of Vienna was inspired to blog by the Belmont Club.  More on the ongoing Malmo, Sweden "youth riots" here.  For self-defense tips go here.
Posted on 04/16/2007 4:54 PM by Robert Bove
Monday, 16 April 2007
Time Magazine's "Conservatives" Who Call for Gonzales's Ouster

In a really reprehensible bit of legerdemain, Time Magazine blares today: "In what could prove an embarrassing new setback for embattled Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on the eve of his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, a group of influential conservatives and longtime Bush supporters has written a letter to the White House to call for his resignation."  (Emphasis added.) 

And who are these "influential conservatives and longtime Bush supporters"?  They include former Congressman Bob Barr, a relentless critic of the Patriot Act, and law professor Bruce Fein, formerly an official in the Reagan Justice Department, who has been a dependably shrill critic of the NSA surveillance program — to the point of suggesting that perhaps President Bush should be impeached over it.  Here's a little ditty from "longtime Bush supporter" Fein that the ACLU has found so helpful it is featured prominently on the organization's website:

Bruce Fein, Constitutional Scholar and former Deputy Attorney General in the Reagan Administration (Diane Rehm Show, 12/19/05)

Asked if spying on the American people was as impeachable an offense as lying and having sex with an intern, Fein replied:

“I think the answer requires at least in part considering what the occupant of the presidency says in the aftermath of wrongdoing or rectification.  On its face, if President Bush is totally unapologetic and says I continue to maintain that as a wartime President I can do anything I want – I don’t need to consult any other branches – that is an impeachable offense. It’s more dangerous that Clinton’s lying under oath because it jeopardizes our democratic dispensation and civil liberties for the ages. It would set a precedent that … would lie around like a loaded gun, able to be used indefinitely for any future occupant.”

With longtime supporters like this, who needs enemies?  There's a lot of conservative unhappiness with Gonzales's overall tenure, but I daresay most conservatives think the U.S. attorneys controversy has been blown way out of proportion.  I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for people to head for the exits just because Fein and Barr are pointing the way.

Posted on 04/16/2007 5:33 PM by Andy McCarthy

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