Sunday, April 14, 2013

Sunday roundup

Good advice for the city's nudist activists from Russian president Vladimir Putin: "It is better to be dressed if one wants to discuss political matters."

One of my favorite bloggers, James Fallows, writing about the al-Dura case, strays from the party line on the JFK assassination:

Often, as I've argued in the false-equivalence chronicles, taking the middle ground is a way to evade the hard work of finding the real truth. In this case, my agnosticism comes from the murkiness of the evidence and the asymmetrical burdens of proof and disproof. It is much easier to establish that one hypothesis is false---for instance, that IDF soldiers were in the wrong place to do the reported shooting---than to prove that some other one is true. Similarly: I find it hard to believe that Lee Harvey Oswald acted entirely on his own in killing John F. Kennedy, but I have no idea what the "real" story is.(emphasis added)

Movie critic Roger Ebert on death:

I know it is coming, and I do not fear it, because I believe there is nothing on the other side of death to fear. I hope to be spared as much pain as possible on the approach path. I was perfectly content before I was born, and I think of death as the same state.

Still, there's something disquieting about eternal nothingness.

Life-long celibate Temple Grandin on sex:

Have you had to fight urges over the years?
"Yeah. Now I'm old enough to where that's all gone, and it's like, Good riddance."

As an old guy, I agree with that.

The Islamic bully boys strike again. Is it "Islamophobia" to cite this from a NY Times piece?

But now that [the kite-flying festival]Basant has been suspended, its supporters point out that the festival was a boost to Lahore’s economy. Visitors from all over Pakistan and the diaspora used to pour into the city for the occasion. More than 150,000 kite-makers in Lahore, and thousands more across the Punjab, mostly women, have been unemployed since the ban took effect. And Pakistani liberals argue that any celebration of the country’s traditional culture should be supported, especially now that the country is falling prey to religious extremism. The festival, a folk tradition predating the country’s creation, is at odds with Pakistan’s attempts since independence to consolidate its Islamic identity...Hopes for a revival were dashed this week when the interim government of the province gave up on plans to organize the festival in Lahore, unable to provide security against extremist groups that challenge the celebration. Once again, Pakistan’s indigenous culture is losing ground to Islamic extremism.

This year is the 50th anniversary of the New York Review of Books. The table of contents of the first issue reads like a who's who of the country's intellectual life in 1963. As a 20-year-old working class, would-be intellectual in San Francisco, I was thrilled with the first issue, which I probably bought at City Lights, within walking distance of where I worked downtown for the minimum wage. I had already read many of these writers, but, before the NYR, you had to shop around in a bunch of other publications, like the New Yorker, Dissent and Partisan Review, to find them. I don't think the NY Times Book Review was available here, unless you subscribed to the NY Times.

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