Skip to content

Christians thanking their Islamic murderers.

By KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ [National Review] —Beshir Kamel, brother of both Bishoy Astafanus Kamel, who was 25, and Somaily Astafanus Kamel, who was 23, thanked their murderers for not editing out the name of their Savior when disseminating the video of their beheadings.

Appearing on an Arabic Christian television station, Kamel said that the families of the men, laborers who were working in Libya in order to provide for their families — 13 of them from the same small, impoverished village — were congratulating one another. “We are proud to have this number of people from our village who have become martyrs,” he explained. Continue reading “Christians thanking their Islamic murderers.” »

Google BookmarksGoogle GmailPrintPrintFriendlyYahoo MailTwitterKindle ItReddit

Fun with unemployment numbers in America.

By JIM CLIFTON [Gallup] — Right now, we’re hearing much celebrating from the media, the White House and Wall Street about how unemployment is “down” to 5.6%. The cheerleading for this number is deafening. The media loves a comeback story, the White House wants to score political points and Wall Street would like you to stay in the market. Continue reading “Fun with unemployment numbers in America.” »

Google BookmarksGoogle GmailPrintPrintFriendlyYahoo MailTwitterKindle ItReddit

Aram Saroyan: ‘I should interview Rod McKuen…’

McKuen with Poe

…at Poe’s grave in Baltimore. Left to right: Pam Plymell, Rod McKuen, Paul Grillo, Charles Plymell, Liz Plymell seated. (Image: courtesy Pam Plymell/Cherry Valley Editions.)

By ARAM SAROYAN [The Nervous Breakdown] — In the winter of 1976, I committed the professional and personal faux pas of giving a poetry reading with Rod McKuen. It took place at the Veterans Auditorium in downtown San Francisco and was supposed to be a benefit for the San Francisco State University poetry program. Lewis MacAdams, my friend and fellow resident of Bolinas, the radical seacoast town at the western edge of Marin County, was just then employed as director of the program. I had wanted a reading in that year’s series, of course, but Lewis and I were poetry competitors as well as friends. (I should say that poets, generally perceived as ivory tower dreamers and underpaid to the point of extinction, are among the most vainglorious and unforgiving in the matter of readings, appointments, anthologies, and the like, none of it amounting to a hill of beans.) In the months prior to the McKuen/Saroyan slate being set, my suspicion was that Lewis wasn’t going to include me on his schedule of readers, and this despite all the stuff I’d published recently, including full-page poems in Rolling Stone, New Age, The Village Voice, and The New York Times Sunday Magazine. Continue reading “Aram Saroyan: ‘I should interview Rod McKuen…’” »

Google BookmarksGoogle GmailPrintPrintFriendlyYahoo MailTwitterKindle ItReddit

Awards for nodes: UK poetry prizes.

By DAVID-ANTOINE WILLIAMS [The Life of Words] — Below I have three network graphs representing the nominees and winners between 2010 and 2014 of the T. S. Eliot Prize, the Forward Prize (Best Collection category), and the Griffin Prize, where the judges and nominees are poets based in the UK or Ireland. There are 174 nominations in those five years, shared among 61 individuals. Because the TSE prize has the most nominations and all judges are usually poets, it accounts for 129 of the 174 nominations. Continue reading “Awards for nodes: UK poetry prizes.” »

Google BookmarksGoogle GmailPrintPrintFriendlyYahoo MailTwitterKindle ItReddit

Killing cartoonists for Allah.

WHAT DRIVES CERTAIN people to kill cartoonists as an act of faith? Two views:

By SALMAN RUSHDIE [English PEN via WSJ] — Religion, a mediaeval form of unreason, when combined with modern weaponry becomes a real threat to our freedoms. This religious totalitarianism has caused a deadly mutation in the heart of Islam and we see the tragic consequences in Paris today….

Continued at The Wall Street Journal |

By GEORGE PACKER [The New Yorker] —The murders today in Paris are not a result of France’s failure to assimilate two generations of Muslim immigrants from its former colonies. They’re not about French military action against the Islamic State in the Middle East, or the American invasion of Iraq before that. They’re not part of some general wave of nihilistic violence in the economically depressed, socially atomized, morally hollow West—the Paris version of Newtown or Oslo. Least of all should they be “understood” as reactions to disrespect for religion on the part of irresponsible cartoonists. Continue reading “Killing cartoonists for Allah.” »

Google BookmarksGoogle GmailPrintPrintFriendlyYahoo MailTwitterKindle ItReddit

The New Republic at 100.


NOVEMBER 24, 2014, marked the 100th year of The New Republic, a venerable American magazine that wore the contemptuous epithets by conservatives as a “liberal rag” like a badge of honor. The publication was a forum for discussion of politics, policy and the arts. More broadly, The New Republic was a place where ideas—new, old, and contested—could be articulated. Legitimacy was conferred on the publication even before the appearance of the first issue; it was the subject of discussion at former president Theodore Roosevelt’s Long Island estate (an auspicious setting for a magazine that would engage in political debate with a formidable tenacity). Continue reading “The New Republic at 100.” »

Google BookmarksGoogle GmailPrintPrintFriendlyYahoo MailTwitterKindle ItReddit

Another Shakespeare First Folio found — this one in France.

[Bibliology: The Biblio Blog] — Shakespeare’s First Folio – containing 36 of his 38 known plays and printed in 1623 – is one of the most valuable books in English literature. It’s also one of the most closely inventoried. Of the 800 copies thought to have been originally printed in the 17th century, 233 are believed to still exist today. And now we can add the 234th to the list. Continue reading “Another Shakespeare First Folio found — this one in France.” »

Google BookmarksGoogle GmailPrintPrintFriendlyYahoo MailTwitterKindle ItReddit

Money for nothing.

By KATE BACHELDER [Wall Street Journal] — The U.S. spent $12,608 per student in 2010—more than double the figure, in inflation-adjusted dollars, spent in 1970—and spending on public elementary and secondary schools has surpassed $600 billion. How’s that working out? Adjusted state SAT scores have declined on average 3% since the 1970s, as the Cato Institute’s Andrew Coulson found in a March report. Continue reading “Money for nothing.” »

Google BookmarksGoogle GmailPrintPrintFriendlyYahoo MailTwitterKindle ItReddit

Goodbye to LM Kit Carson.

WE REPORT WITH great sadness that L.M. Kit Carson, whose “Africa Diary” production blog ran here in The Fortnightly Review several years ago, has died in Texas. His accomplishments and his unaffected intellectual powers were both impressive, and his great personal charm made him a wonderful friend, colleague, and occasional contributor.

By birth and by personal philosophy, Carson was the quintessential Texan, a man much, much larger than his sadly abbreviated life. We excerpt below the perceptive obituary published in the Dallas News: Continue reading “Goodbye to LM Kit Carson.” »

Google BookmarksGoogle GmailPrintPrintFriendlyYahoo MailTwitterKindle ItReddit

The Ebola in your future.

By SCOTT GOTTLIED and TEVI TROY [from The Wall Street Journal] — The World Health Organization’s failed response to the Ebola crisis shows anew that the group is more a politically minded policy-making body than a relief agency. The WHO claims that it lacked the resources to respond to Ebola, but while the outbreak was spiraling out of control in West Africa, the organization had plenty of time and money to mount an international campaign to combat what it flagged last month as a “grave concern.” Not Ebola, but electronic cigarettes. Continue reading “The Ebola in your future.” »

Google BookmarksGoogle GmailPrintPrintFriendlyYahoo MailTwitterKindle ItReddit

The secret life of figs.

By GERRY CORDON [ from That’s How the Light Gets In] — THE FIG VARIETIES grown in Britain (like our Brown Turkey)  develop fruit develop without flowers or  the need for pollination. That’s helpful, since we don’t have any fig wasps here to do the pollinating.  Because the remarkable thing about figs is that the flowers are inside the fruitlets that develop like little buds on the stems.  Elsewhere in the world, the flowers inside the fruitlets must be pollinated by a female fig wasp (a creature that lives for only two days) which must enter the fruitlet via a tiny opening at its apex.  The female wasp then proceeds to pollinate the stigmas of the fig before exiting the fig in search of other young receptive figs to complete the cycle. Once the fig wasp has left the fig, it ripens. Continue reading “The secret life of figs.” »

Google BookmarksGoogle GmailPrintPrintFriendlyYahoo MailTwitterKindle ItReddit

Scottish independence — as seen from Orkney.


‘Man will be ultimately known for a mere polity of multifarious, incongruous and independent denizens. I, for my part, from the nature of my life, advanced infallibly in one direction and in one direction only.’ —Hyde, of Edinburgh

‘bt w’re aa kenyans at da end o’t.’ —Derick fae Yell

Image: Scottish Republican Socialist web page.A PAIR OF elaborate monuments frames St Rognvald’s Chapel at the east end of St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall. Magnus was canonised in 1133, and his cathedral was begun in 1137, at the initiative of Rognvald (‘Ronald’), Magnus’s nephew. It’s thought that English masters (architects) and masons who had worked at Durham Cathedral and Dunfermline Abbey were employed in construction of the first phases of St Magnus Cathedral.

St Magnus - choir. ‘The choir, which is the earliest part, is the finest Romanesque work north of Durham, which inspired it’.1 To the north side of the apsidal altar is a monument to William Balfour Baikie, and to the south, another commemorating John Rae. Between them, on the central altar, an open copy of Scripture, in Norwegian, the pages turned each day, and next it, a rather fine model ‘Viking’ long ship. There is a (male) poets and scholars’ corner here too, with one space vacant, top right. The fusion of diverse cultures and connections within this east end is formidable, moving yet bizarre, intensely masculinist; Mary is not present, perhaps purged during Reformation. Continue reading “Scottish independence — as seen from Orkney.” »

  1. Stewart Cruden, ‘The Founding and Building of the Twelfth-Century Cathedral of St Magnus’, 78–87, 79, in Barbara A. Crawford (ed.), St Magnus Cathedral and Orkney’s Twelfth-Century Renaissance (Aberdeen UP, 1988).
Google BookmarksGoogle GmailPrintPrintFriendlyYahoo MailTwitterKindle ItReddit

How seven candlesticks beat four horsemen.

By MARY ELIZABETH PODLES [Touchstone] — What is it that makes Dürer’s image so compelling? Partly it is his mastery of the woodcut medium, even though it is at best an intractable one. In order to lock into the press and print with typeface, each line in the woodcut must be raised in relief. That is, all of the area that prints as white must be cut away by the artisan’s knife, leaving behind narrow raised ridges that hold the ink and print as black lines.

Durer: Seven Golden CandlesticksIn the early days of printing, most woodcuts were no more skillfully done than Koberger’s. But Dürer, who trained with his father as a goldsmith and only later turned to art, transformed the language of the medium and made a new range of effects possible. Dürer drew with a broad-nibbed pen directly on the pearwood block, and, at the beginning, he was probably the only one skilled enough to cut his own designs.

By the time Dürer composed and cut the Vision of the Seven Candlesticks, he had gained full mastery of the woodcut line and its possibilities. He was able to make exact renderings and multiple copies of his autograph drawings: we, in the age of the Xerox machine, fail to realize the revolutionary impact of the early print media. From Dürer onward, printing would never be the same. Continue reading “How seven candlesticks beat four horsemen.” »

Google BookmarksGoogle GmailPrintPrintFriendlyYahoo MailTwitterKindle ItReddit

Women telling men what to do.

From The Daily Telegraph —Today the Church will vote again on whether women should be raised to the episcopate. It has a new leader, the Most Rev Justin Welby, and it seems right that the General Synod should look once more at the issue. Of course, the principled views of opponents have to be taken in account, both those on the Anglo-Catholic wing and the sizeable group of conservative evangelicals. It is encouraging that new, simpler arrangements have been put in place so that minorities can be accommodated, with bishops being trusted to look after their own dioceses. And those involved say that the mediation sessions that took place earlier in the year were friendly and trusting.

It is not for us to tell the Church what to do, but all who wish it well would surely like to see this long disagreement settled. It’s true that the Church looks to a higher authority than the whims of contemporary society when making decisions, and opponents of women bishops in the Synod will have come to their view after careful thought. But Anglicans are pragmatic people: many will feel that having agreed to permit women priests in 1992, allowing women bishops is the next logical step. On the whole, people who worship at their local church on Sundays are happy to have women as their vicars; something that once seemed unthinkable and extraordinary now seems normal. The rest of the population, who may not be regular worshippers but who retain a deep affection for the institution, will be of a similar mind.

Continue reading “Women telling men what to do.” »

Google BookmarksGoogle GmailPrintPrintFriendlyYahoo MailTwitterKindle ItReddit

John XXIII and the Cold War.


roncalliON SUNDAY, 27 April, Pope Francis presided over the canonizations of Popes John XXIII and John Paul II. When Angelo Cardinal Roncalli, the Patriarch of Venice and a former Vatican diplomat, was elected pope on 28 October 1958 at age 76, both Time magazine and the New York Herald-Tribune dismissed the assumption that he would just be a “caretaker” pope. During his short papacy (1958-1963), John XXIII earned considerable acclaim, including from non-Catholics (and even a few anti-Catholics), for supporting peace and nuclear disarmament, improving relations with Jews and other religious groups, and convening the historic Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). As the second Cold War-era pope, John XXIII’s attitudes toward the Soviet Union and communism continue to be misunderstood. Continue reading “John XXIII and the Cold War.” »

Google BookmarksGoogle GmailPrintPrintFriendlyYahoo MailTwitterKindle ItReddit