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Our Last 50 Referrers

« Political Will and Nuclear Waste Storage | Main | Timothy Taylor On Sale »

November 26, 2004


Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

* OK, so ancient Greek statues weren't white. We know that. They were painted, or gold-leafed, or something. Very interesting. But what did they actually look like? Here's the answer, or one possible answer anyway. And talk about gaudy! What I'm most reminded of is the decor in NYC pizza parlors.

* Thanks again to Dave Lull, who points out this short New York magazine piece. In it, Toni Bentley responds to critics of her book "The Surrender," most of whom turn out to be female. I thought the book was wonderful, but then again I'm naught but a guy.

* Should we analyze narratives or enjoy them? And what does it mean to be "taken out of the story" anyway? Forager has some thoughts.

* Susan has been wondering about fantasy, immersion, fiction and computer games.

* America's Art-and-Crafts era was a good time for women artists, a number of whom achieved fame and prosperity as illustrators and designers. Here's an intro to one of the most-talented of these women, Elizabeth Shippen Green.

* Martine isn't a fan of the "LOTR" movies -- too damn many chases. Calendars of hunky Italian priests please her more.

* Anyone who's curious about the classic Japanese cinema but hasn't known where to begin should find this well-annotated Amazon viewer's list a concise help.

* Thanks to Gavin Shorto for pointing out this interesting Guardian piece on possible relationships between music and language.

* Here's a fun visit with the great English actress Maggie Smith.

* I haven't cracked it yet, but a new issue of City Journal -- one of the best magazines out there -- is now online. It includes articles by the usual high-powered cast (Kay Hymowitz, Heather Mac Donald), as well as a collection of new-classicist proposals for Manhattan's West Side. John Massengale thinks the new classicists should have done better.

* Alan Little learns the hard way about one of those traps women set for their men. Then he wonders how well-equipped science is to account for the effects of yoga and meditation.

* I haven't yet subscribed to the English magazine The Idler, which extolls the joys of lazing around. But I certainly plan to do so once I can gather up the energy to send in a check. Here's a charming visit with The Idler's anti-dynamic mastermind, Tom Hodgkinson. And here's a Newsweek visit with Carl Honore, the author of "In Praise of Slowness." I blogged enthusiastically, if lazily, about this lovely book here.

* So maybe turning the country into a giant Wal-Mart while living on credit from the Chinese hasn't been a good idea after all. Morgan Stanley's chief economist thinks the American economy is goin' down.

* Arnold Kling takes on some of the myths about Social Security.

* One of the political terms it pays to watch out for is "social justice." Who could be against such an innocuous-sounding thing as social justice? Yet what's happened to the term turns out to be something like what's happened to "feminism" -- it has become loaded with all kinds of partyline nonsense. Sign on the dotted line and wake up a member of a cult. The Adam Smith Blog's James Bartholomew spells this out in detail here.

* People who trust that government will always do its sincere best to achieve desired ends might want to eyeball this good piece about how the city of Buffalo managed to squander a half a billion dollars of federal urban aid. Sample quote:

More than half went to "soft costs" that include covering bad loans, paying City Hall salaries, and subsidizing an overblown network of neighborhood agencies, the News found. Relatively little has gone to brick and mortar projects. What has been spent to revitalize downtown and neighborhoods, the News found, has been haphazard, with money sometimes going to risky and futile projects.

How reassuring to learn that the Buffalo government has promised that reforms are underway. (Link thanks to John Ray.)

* John Derbyshire learns about the future from one who knows.

* A glimpse of the other side of the '60s: during that decade, violent-crime rates nearly tripled. A high price to pay for rock and roll? There's much else to be learned too from this interesting interview with the sociologist James Q. ("Broken Windows") Wilson.

* In the wake of Theo Van Gogh's murder, Dutch TV viewers have voted the immigration-restrictionist Pim Fortuyn the greatest Dutchman of all time. Bridget Johnson wonders why Hollywood human-rights types have been silent about Van Gogh's murder.

* GNXP links to a Scotsman report that HIV infection rates in Britain are soaring largely as a "result of people migrating from countries with the biggest HIV problem, especially Africa." GNXP also points out that HIV infection rates among Mexicans illegally in the U.S. are three times higher than they are in the general population.

* The American military blocks web access to the immigration-restrictionist site Vdare. Question for the day: why does our own government view immigration-restrictionists rather than high-rate advocates as dangers to the republic?

* Is California becoming like Brazil, an entity split between a high-flying elite and a dirt-poor mass? Steve Sailer argues not just that it is, but that this suits the Democrats just fine.

* Greg Ransom points out that 12% of the American population is now foreign-born. The Center for Immigration Studies reports that the nation's immigrant population, already at an all-time high, has increased by over four million since 2000. We're now home to more than 10 million illegal immigrants.

* Phyllis Schlafly thinks there's yet another good reason to root against GWBush's nutty, let-'em-all-in immigration proposal: it'll bankrupt Social Security.

* There's now a gang-rape a day in London.

* Brace yourself for more muddles like this one: Canadian Muslims object to the anti-homophobia classes their kids are put through at public school. Sigh: it's getting awfully hard to be on the side of the angels, isn't it?

* Brace yourself for more of this kind of thing too: the number of lawsuits over English-at-work rules in America has risen by over 600 percent since 1996. Support your local lawyer by supporting whacky immigration policies.

* There have been a few real-live penises on display in recent movies. Trend or coincidence?

* John Marshall thinks sex at the speed of light might not be a good idea. Best reason to avoid it, as far as I'm concerned: "penis vaporisation."

* What is it about Japanese schoolgirls? And what is it about Japanese schoolgirl uniforms??

* Foot-worship seems to come in many more varieties than I'd ever have guessed.

* Thanks to John Massengale for pointing out this Project for Public Space piece naming the twenty best North American districts, downtowns, and neighborhoods. David Sucher thinks the PPS's choices are a little too one-note.[CORRECTION: My mistake and my misreading. David was making another, and very good, point entirely. Click on the link to find out what.]

* Here's a good site that tells the story of Levittown, the legendary post-WWII suburban development. Is Levittown the symbol of everything that's ticky-tacky about America? Or a little bit of hardwon paradise for the American family?

* Do shopping malls have to be eyesores? And do they have to destroy downtowns? We often assume that both these things are necessarily true. Yet America's very first shopping mall -- Country Club Plaza, in Kansas City -- is a charmer, as well as an enhancer of KC's downtown.



posted by Michael at November 26, 2004


Pim Fortuyn had been leading in this pageant for weeks, mainly because his followers are still very active online. So, only when his victory seemed inevitable many people began to phone in and vote for the other main contender, William the Silent [of Orange]. Who even got a lot more votes in the end. But, ironically because there had been signals of fraud before, it took too much time to check all those votes coming in on the last night of the pageant, while the television broadcast still ran. So Pim Fortuyn was declared "The Greatest Dutchman of all Time", and suddenly everyone thought that was a serios statement about our current affairs.

In reality, even when Fortuyn was at the peak of his popularity, during the 2002 parliamentary elections, a week after he was murdered on May 8, he only got about 14% of the total vote. Which was extremely impressive for a newcomer, but hardly means he won everyone over.

70% of the Dutch population hated to see him win the "Greatest Dutchman" pageant, another survey found.

Posted by: ijsbrand on November 27, 2004 1:20 PM

I've got to say, I'd have to go with William the Silent. If only to show my appreciation for someone smart enough to both talk a lot (William was, apparently, quite loquacious) and yet still not let anybody know what he really thought, while leading a revolution!

Plus, let's face it, it's just a cool nickname.

Posted by: Friedrich von Blowhard on November 27, 2004 2:39 PM

Oh yeah, I forgot. OF COURSE California is starting to resemble Brazil more than the rest of the U.S. I moved here because I thought L.A. was inventing the future, but it has turned out to be a version of somebody else's past.

Stay tuned...!

Posted by: Friedrich von Blowhard on November 27, 2004 2:41 PM

FvB, are you...gasp... MOVING OUT?
I'm intrigued.

Posted by: Tatyana on November 27, 2004 8:06 PM

"David Sucher thinks the PPS's choices are a little too one-note."

Not so.

Posted by: David Sucher on November 27, 2004 9:25 PM

David -- Happy to correct, but let me quote from your blog:

"The 20 Best Neighborhoods in North America all seem to be the same and/or at least have a very strong resemblence."

So that isn't a criticism of the choices? Sorry if I misunderstood ...

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on November 28, 2004 9:25 PM

Reading that outline on Elizabeth S.Green, I thought I see something familiar, at least in that "Life was meant for love and cheer" piece.

Compare to works of Ivan Bilibin. Online reproduction doesn't realy do him justice - I wish I could show you some of my books with his illustrations.

Posted by: Tatyana on November 29, 2004 10:32 AM

Not a criticism at all. And obviously I was a bit sloppy. What I meant/mean is that the core elements of what makes a nice neighborhood are all the same and so interesting neighborhoods worldwide have more commonalities than differences.

From a touristic perspective, I guess those small differences are significant.

But from a policy/programmatic/"what-do-I-want-my-neighborhood-to-be-like" perspective, I'd suggest that it is the commonalities which must become intellectually second-nature.

Posted by: David Sucher on November 29, 2004 10:09 PM

The James Wilson interview is very interesting. Thanks for the link and keep on your good work linking to interesting posts & news.

Posted by: JT on November 30, 2004 9:31 AM

David S: Time to work the opening line of Anna Karenina into your view :)

Posted by: JT on November 30, 2004 9:34 AM

David -- Thanks for clarifying, and I'll correct pronto.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on December 1, 2004 2:42 PM

I went to the Levittown exhibit in Harrisburg awhile ago and one statement jumped right out-- Levitt designed the place (at least the one in Penna.) so that no child would have to cross a major street on the way to school. Of course, he didn't forsee consolidation. But walking anywhere doesn't seem an option in cul-de-sac exurbia.

In one respect California is most unlike Brazil: language. Of the ten largest countries, only Japan is more monolingual. That's quite a feat. Of course, their immigration has always been small, slow and selective.

Funny, but Mr Sucher gave me a warning when I used the word "Brazilianization" on his blog. I wasn't sure if it was the ethnic implications (there weren't any) or the socioeconomic ones (there are plenty) he objected to, but I made much the same point Sailer did in the piece linked to above. But really, the great ideas in "City Comforts" seem so, well, so middle-class. How well would they work in a city of favelas and fortified villas?

Posted by: Reg Csar on December 2, 2004 8:34 PM

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