In which a group of graying eternal amateurs discuss their passions, interests and obsessions, among them: movies, art, politics, evolutionary biology, taxes, writing, computers, these kids these days, and lousy educations.

E-Mail Donald
Demographer, recovering sociologist, and arts buff

E-Mail Fenster
College administrator and arts buff

E-Mail Francis
Architectural historian and arts buff

E-Mail Friedrich
Entrepreneur and arts buff
E-Mail Michael
Media flunky and arts buff

We assume it's OK to quote emailers by name.

Try Advanced Search

  1. Seattle Squeeze: New Urban Living
  2. Checking In
  3. Ben Aronson's Representational Abstractions
  4. Rock is ... Forever?
  5. We Need the Arts: A Sob Story
  6. Form Following (Commercial) Function
  7. Two Humorous Items from the Financial Crisis
  8. Ken Auster of the Kute Kaptions
  9. What Might Representational Painters Paint?
  10. In The Times ...

Sasha Castel
AC Douglas
Out of Lascaux
The Ambler
Modern Art Notes
Cranky Professor
Mike Snider on Poetry
Silliman on Poetry
Felix Salmon
Polly Frost
Polly and Ray's Forum
Stumbling Tongue
Brian's Culture Blog
Banana Oil
Scourge of Modernism
Visible Darkness
Thomas Hobbs
Blog Lodge
Leibman Theory
Goliard Dream
Third Level Digression
Here Inside
My Stupid Dog
W.J. Duquette

Politics, Education, and Economics Blogs
Andrew Sullivan
The Corner at National Review
Steve Sailer
Joanne Jacobs
Natalie Solent
A Libertarian Parent in the Countryside
Rational Parenting
Colby Cosh
View from the Right
Pejman Pundit
God of the Machine
One Good Turn
Liberty Log
Daily Pundit
Catallaxy Files
Greatest Jeneration
Glenn Frazier
Jane Galt
Jim Miller
Limbic Nutrition
Innocents Abroad
Chicago Boyz
James Lileks
Cybrarian at Large
Hello Bloggy!
Setting the World to Rights
Travelling Shoes

Redwood Dragon
The Invisible Hand
Daze Reader
Lynn Sislo
The Fat Guy
Jon Walz


Our Last 50 Referrers

« Politician Books | Main | Propagatin' and Populatin' 2: Raw Numbers »

July 19, 2007


Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

* Raise the IQ question and watch the number of commenters shoot up.

* That Hitler sure had a nice way with home decor, didn't he? (Link thanks to Charlton Griffin.)

* Claire couldn't resist temptation.

* So there was this old barn on this guy's property, and when he finally got around to cracking it open ... (Link thanks to Susan, who has been enjoying a Friedrich von Blowhard favorite, Saul Bellow's "Henderson the Rain King.")

* Say it ain't so: Sales of women's stockings have halved in Britain over just the last four years. Ladies, won't you please reconsider?

* Marc Andreessen notices a neat wrinkle in the immigration issue: Our agricultural policies, especially the way we subsidize corn, are helping drive Mexicans north.

* Learn some nifty facts about Terrierman, Matt, Reid, Steve, and Henry.

* British feminist Fay Weldon seems to think that this gender-equality thing has gone a little too far.

* Is this the YouTube equal of the opening shot of "Touch of Evil"?

* David reports that time really does slow down when you get hit by a car.

* Empires come and empires go ...

* Alias Clio has some good words for the historical novelist Mary Renault.

* MBlowhard Rewind: To celebrate -- haha -- the financial success of Michael Bay's "Transformers," here's my appreciation of his extravagant 2005 bomb, "The Island."



posted by Michael at July 19, 2007


That barn in Portugal is the sort of thing every car fan dreams about.

Posted by: Peter on July 19, 2007 10:29 PM

The Fay Weldon article has hilariously misunderstood why a man in his 50s or later would go through the trouble of cosmetic surgery, hair transplants, and other efforts to appear younger and hipper: he wants to be able to pick up much younger women.

Look at her two prime examples: Michael Douglas and Silvio Berlusconi. Douglas, when he was 56, married megababe Catherine Zeta-Jones, who is 25 years his junior.

Berlusconi, despite having first married a woman only 4 years younger, later fathered children by megababe Veronica Lario, who is about 20 years his junior. They started having kids (3 in total) when she was about 28, although they formally married later on.

It could only occur to a feminist that 50-something men would go to such extreme lengths of appearing younger, healthier, and sexier in order to attract or hold onto menopausal women.

Posted by: Agnostic on July 19, 2007 11:23 PM

To pick up on Agnostc's point: Feminism is such a malformed ideology, that even the Left has started to jettison it quite some time ago. We've come a long way since the early 90s, the peak of Feminism's influence.

Posted by: PA on July 20, 2007 7:23 AM

Christ Sofia Loren was hot.

Posted by: omar on July 20, 2007 8:31 AM

I haven't worn stockings since the seventies, switching to pants. Why? Because in summer, when it is hot, I hate to be told to wear a sweat-catching, bad-heat-conducting material next to my sking (acutally between one half and one third of my skin) because I would not look like a decent woman otherwise.

That is torture pure and simple (and don't get me started on pantyhose, which is responsible for yeast infections, and urinary tract infections, with symptoms such as pissing pus or blood), and the refusal of society to treat a woman with respect unless she wears stockings even in the dog days of summer makes very hyprocritical their outrage at the forcing of women to wear burkhas.

So if they want women to wear stockings again they should

a) decree that after the temperature goes over a certain number, stockings have to come off.

b) ban pantyhose, on sanitary gorounds.


c) recognize that while women's sexuality is an important part of their being, they spent a great deal of time doing things that are different from engaging in sex, and that they should be comfortable while doing that. But that can only do if you can imagine that a woman might have others things to worry about than giving you a good time.

Posted by: Adriana on July 20, 2007 8:32 AM

The Fay Weldon article has hilariously misunderstood why a man in his 50s or later would go through the trouble of cosmetic surgery, hair transplants, and other efforts to appear younger and hipper: he wants to be able to pick up much younger women.
Look at her two prime examples: Michael Douglas and Silvio Berlusconi.

Plastic surgery isn't necessary if the older man has enough money and/or power. Consider, for example, Fred Thompson, 64 years old and not looking a day over 80, married to an ultra-hott wtrophy wife almost 25 years younger than him.

Posted by: Peter on July 20, 2007 9:15 AM

Peter -- Isn't it though? I want a followup. What'd the guy do with the cars?

Agnostic, PA -- Fay Weldon is a real loose cannon, isn't she? Still, all that said, she can be a very funny writer. And her main point rings true to me -- that for many of today's women, men have become mere lifestyle accessories, or maybe items to check off on a "to-do" list. I don't see it among 50 year olders and up, but among the 30 and under crowd it's all around me: dynamic, get-outta-my-way gals (who nonetheless insist on having boyfriends), and whimpery guys who assume it's all about the girl but who hang around hoping for nooky anyway. No? Or is that just the NYC media world?

Omar -- So true. Barooooooo!

Adriana -- I can sign on to all those stipulations with no trouble. Funny, though, isn't it, about uncomfortable thingies that gals wear to be sexy? Stockings seem to be on their way out, while thongs have become the new standard thing. It's not as if women have renounced "being uncomfortable for the sake of being sexy and feeling young and with-it." I wonder why the focus has moved from the legs to the butt ... Actually the way that certain kinds of discomfort seem to heighten (if only sometimes) the awareness of sexiness is an interesting topic. Why should this be so? The old free and easy hippie days had their virtues, but the let-it-hang-out comfort of much hippie attire didn't promote sexiness, let alone heightened-focus of any kind, it sort of ... I don't know, turned into drowsiness and dreadlocks instead.

Peter -- Makes you wonder what Fred Thompson has going for him, no? Can't see it myself.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on July 20, 2007 10:55 AM

Commenters here misunderstand Faye Weldon. The article is ironic, in the true sense of the word -that is, it's a bit of an inside joke. Not so inside, though, to English readers, who are likely to know her story.

You see, Weldon had cosmetic surgery herself, after (I think) her novel The She Devil was made into a film, and her long-time husband dumped her for it. So this piece is a kind of teaser directed at men, and probably written with her ex-husband in mind.

Weldon has since re-married, by the way, putting the lie to your assumption that older men never pursue older women. It's women who initiate most divorces according to all statistics I've seen (not that I approve unless it's for serious reasons), and it's not uncommon for middle-aged men to find themselves looking for another mate.

Most such men are astute to know that if they're single at 50, they're not likely to land Catherine Zeta-Jones (my, but that name comes up a lot on the net), even with the help of cosmetic surgery. So older men do, indeed, fight for the attention of women their own age, and although the competition is fierce less than in youth, since there are fewer of them, they have to do battle against many older women's preference for singlehood.

Posted by: alias clio on July 20, 2007 11:11 AM

Thanks for the rewind to your review of the THE ISLAND, which I missed on the first go-round. FWIW, I had exactly the same reaction as you did. I enjoyed it immensely, and thought it was a undervalued piece of schlock art. The only thing that would have made it better was an R rating, if only for the moment when Scarlett Johannson "discovers" sex.

Posted by: Steve on July 20, 2007 11:21 AM

The Fay Weldon essay was indeed utterly clueless. Men have not, pace MvB, become accessories to women, despite all the brave prattle about a woman not needing a man to be happy and whatnot. We're hardwired to need one another, and biology will win out over this week's culture fad all the time.

To give an example of FW's cluelessness: she writes "but older women have the advantage [over older men]: they need only to come over as kind and friendly, which is comparatively easy."

Older woman are hopelessly out of the game, period. There are far more older male/younger female partnerships than otherwise, and the sport of "wife-shucking" still deserves to be called just that, not "spouse-shucking".

How an intelligent woman like Fay Weldon could ignore that enormous fact is an indication of the self-generated world of I-am-utterly-out of-it she lives in.


Posted by: PatrickH on July 20, 2007 11:23 AM

Oooh. Too much cutting and pasting made a mess of my last comment, above. It should read "astute enough to know" and "less fierce than in youth". And the italics should cover only the words "She Devil".

Posted by: alias clio on July 20, 2007 11:36 AM

The most amazing thing about that Hitler article is that the cover date, Nov. 1938, is the month of Kristallnacht. Obviously, the article was written before that notorious event, but the point is that by this time things had gotten really, really bad in

Posted by: Lester Hunt on July 20, 2007 12:57 PM

About IQ. I've come to the heretical conclusion that the qualities that make people sweetly and delightfully human have little or nothing to do with intelligence, and I number people among my best friends who, like I, can scarcely add two and two. In the end, their nature, their character, their virtues count most for me. I think I would be rather proud to be adjudged an idiot by the gurus who do the testing these days.

Posted by: Richard S. Wheeler on July 20, 2007 1:18 PM

In my experience, sexiness resides principally in emotional intelligence and (quiet) self-confidence, not in the boobal or spanky areas. Good brains are hawt. Self-confident people are hawt. Both are freed from the tyranny of fashion, a.k.a. having to serve the status quo before oneself.

At 46, my own pool of desirable mates ain't particularly large; then again, it wasn't significantly larger at 26 or even 16. Not a lot of people have ever found me hawt, and (alas) vice versa. I'm crazy about The BF, and rightly so: someone ought to be hella hot to warrant giving up your freedom.

And what Richard S. Wheeler said? In a word? *Word*.

Posted by: communicatrix on July 20, 2007 2:17 PM

Thanks for the links, Michael. I had a lot of fun doing it.

Posted by: claire on July 20, 2007 3:19 PM

I'm reading this feminism debate and all I hear is CHEEZE-ITZ! CHEEZE-ITZ! CHEEZE-ITZ! CHEEZE-ITZ!

Posted by: Brian on July 20, 2007 5:48 PM

Thanks for your concern, Fay Weldon, but you know, somehow, I think that we guys will get by without you and your kind.

Posted by: tschafer on July 22, 2007 9:16 PM

The David Blaine Street Magic 2 clip on YouTube is a scream. The best part is where he shoots the camera a mystical stare everytime he works his "magic."

YouTube is making this a golden age of off-the-cuff comedy.

Posted by: Friedrich von Blowhard on July 30, 2007 5:58 PM

Post a comment

Email Address:



Remember your info?