For a number of years I’ve greatly admired and enjoyed the music of the German composer Richard Strauss (1864-1949). In his early years prior to the First World War, he was considered forward-looking, even musically avant-garde. Indeed, the aged defender of the German classical tradition—and another favorite—Max Bruch (d. 1920), found Strauss’ compositions too advanced... Read More
Coping with the demographic crunch.
A Chinese (Chinese-born, Chinese-educated, came to the West as an adult) friend of mine made a remark to me a few months ago that has been bobbing up to the surface of my mind at intervals ever since. I should preface my retailing of it by noting that the Chinese are considerably more outspoken on... Read More
No bad news, please.
One of my favorite literary characters is Winnie in Samuel Beckett's play Happy Days. It's a two-act play, with only two characters. Practically all of the speaking is done by Winnie, who is described thus in the stage directions: "About fifty, well preserved, blond for preference, plump, arms and shoulders bare, low bodice, big bosom,... Read More
A clergyman (Anglican, of course*) once told me that the question he was most often asked by parishioners was: "Will my dog go to heaven?" That was thirty-something years ago. If the good reverend is still around, and can hold on for just a few years more, he may be able to offer his parishioners... Read More
None of the words "Islam," "Muslim," or "Muhammed," nor any of the variant spellings of the latter two, occur in the index to George H. Nash's 1976 classic The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America. It is certainly possible that some of the conservative luminaries whose contributions Nash so meticulously describes had something to say about... Read More
I don't know how much of an airing the Jim McGreevey business got outside the East coast. McGreevey was governor of New Jersey until November 2004, when he resigned. The occasion of his resignation was his having hired a young Israeli national as his homeland security advisor. The young man had no qualifications for the... Read More
That private of the Buffs is … where?
"15 British Agressors [sic] must be EXECUTED." That was the placard being held up by some beetle-browed Iranian outside the British Embassy in Tehran. Well, I don't entirely disagree. I certainly think that those British captives who have let themselves be put forward on Iranian TV, that woman wearing a headscarf, and the young man... Read More
I hope it won't be thought impertinent, over-inquisitive, or — Heaven forfend! — mean-spirited of me to ask, but: Just what, exactly, are these refugees seeking refuge from? Us? A few more questions come to mind. Let us suppose, for example, that Sergeant John Q. American, a serving member of the U.S. armed forces, ships... Read More
John Maynard Keynes once observed that: "Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist." The master in this master-slave relationship need not actually be an economist. It was only that Keynes was writing about economics when the thought occurred to him. That... Read More
The beginning of a new year naturally turns one's thoughts in a numerical direction. Furthermore, as we look forward to 2007, our imagination is liable to overshoot and find itself contemplating the more distant future: the next fifteen years for example. Why fifteen? Permit me to explain. ————————— The ideas I am going to put... Read More
Education is a subject I find hard to contemplate without losing my temper. In the present-day U.S.A., education is basically a series of rent-seeking rackets. There is: … the public school racket, in which homeowners and taxpayers fork out stupendous sums of money to feed a socialistic extravaganza in which, when its employees can spare... Read More
America Alone: The End of the World As We Know It, by Mark Steyn
Is the world of today a better or a worse place than the world of 100 years ago? On all the ordinary indices of human felicity — health, longevity, security, hygiene, comfort, prosperity, equality, dentistry — the answer is of course that we live much better lives than our grandfathers did. That is not the... Read More
Everyone knows how absorbing old newspapers can be. I recently found some crumbly old issues of the New York American ("A Paper for People Who Think") from January 1927, being used as insulation in the ceiling of my garage. Wonderful stuff! — especially the ads: "Everybody wants a single dial radio set," etc. Amid the... Read More
Race and conservatism? Yes, that was the title of the panel discussion I'd signed up for, at the Robert A. Taft Club in Arlington, Va. I'd signed up without much thought, being of an insecure and self-deprecating nature (ask anyone), and always flattered to be invited to events at clubs and institutions with impressive-sounding names.... Read More
Let's start this month's column with a movie. If your PC and internet connection are happy to play a moderate-sized video, here is the movie. If not, I'll just tell you that the star of this movie is a gadget named Robomow,** made by Friendly Robotics, a firm based in Kadima, Israel, founded by two... Read More
Party of Death, by Ramesh Ponnuru
Can Right to Life (hereinafter RTL) fairly be called a cult? This is a point on which I cannot make up my mind. Some of the common characteristics of culthood are missing — the Führerprinzip, for example. On the other hand, RTL has the following things in common with every cult in the world: To... Read More
A useful word.
————————— The whole thing came to mind as follows. A few months ago a colleague came into my office as I was frowning in silent thought. "What's up, John?" he inquired. "Well," I said, "I'm vexed." He stared at me. "You're what?" In pretty short order he was dragging other colleagues into my office to... Read More