Happy Birthday

I couldn't forgive him or like him, but I saw that what he had done was, to him, entirely justified. It was all very careless and confused. They were careless people, Tom and Daisy — they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made. … Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic… Read more

Who said this?

"Writing/Talking about music is like dancing about architecture." I first read this in the liner notes to something from Laurie Anderson (United States — I think). I recalled her attributing it to Steve Martin. Since then I've also seen it variously attributed to Frank Zappa, David Bowie, David Byrne, Robin Hitchcock and Elvis Costello. Googling provides little guidance — "dancing about architecture" gets some 12,100 hits. Eventually you find your way to this page, where Alan P. Scott does his… Read more

The hobgoblin of small minds

Thanks to Buzzflash I find this item from the Australian press. Aussie investigative reporter John Pilger cites both U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice arguing — in early 2001 — that Saddam Hussein's Iraq does not pose a threat to his region or to the world. "Hmm," I think, "This is strong stuff. Pilger's really been doing some digging." But then I learn — via Atrios, via Lean Left — that the Powell speech… Read more

Carnac the Magnificent Business Journalist

Via Romenesko I came across this transcript of a discussion of one of my journalistic pet peeves, what “On the Media” host Bob Garfield calls “single factor analysis”: Every trading day, reporters at the Associated Press, Bloomberg, Reuters, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal and a dozen other news organizations are expected to distill millions of discrete financial decisions and divine a single motivating factor! Some days it’s a Commerce Department report on business inventories. Sometimes it’s a jump in… Read more

In the sweet by and by

The birthdays in the previous post are from Dr. Mac's Cultural Calendar, which also notes that today, Sept. 23, is also in a sense the birthday of a peculiarly American version of Christianity. On this day in 1667 in Williamsburg, Virginia, a law was passed barring slaves from obtaining their freedom by converting to Christianity. Consider what the implications of this were for these Christian slaves and the Christians who bought and sold them. How could these Christians read together… Read more

Happy Birthday!

Today is the birthday of Euripides, Caesar Augustus, Edgar Lee Masters and John Coltrane (and see here for the story of The St. John Will-I-Am Coltrane African Orthodox Church.) Coltrane lived, studied and played here in Philadelphia. It seems to me that in terms of civic pride and tourism, a much bigger deal could be made of this. Anyway, since I can't post a snippet of "My Favorite Things" or "Love Supreme" here, I'll instead offer the following, from Epitaph… Read more

Pascal and “Bennifer”

Sleepless and pensive, I pick up the Pensees. (The entire book is available online, yet I — who spend the better part of every day reading a computer screen — paid for a print edition. This may say something about the current prospects for e-books.) Pascal’s jottings are a glorious mess. I love this book for passages like this: For, in fact, what is man in nature? A Nothing in comparison with the Infinite, an All in comparison with the… Read more

Homophonia revisited

Back before the war began I had a little bit of a problem with homonyms — questioning in one post whether or not Iraq posed an "immanent" threat to America's national security. Brendan Lynch pointed out that I had confused "immanent" with "imminent" — rightly guessing that my theology studies contributed to the mix-up. (The kingdom of God, you see, is both immanent andimminent. Or is it imminent and immanent?) To clarify (from Webster's New World): im ma nent adj…. Read more

New piece in PRISM

Just got the September/October issue of PRISM magazine in the mail. I was an editor and staff writer at "America's alternative evangelical voice" for the magazine's first seven years and I've just started contributing again to it's "Washington Watch" segment. It's a little tricky to write about the "current goings on" in Washington when: A) you're in Media, Pa., and B) you've got a bi-monthly's almost-four-month lead time. I posted the Sept./Oct. column here, and it seems to have aged… Read more

Lt. Alterman

So I'm reading Eric Alterman's latest column in The Nation and I start to see this strange image. It's Eric in a rumpled raincoat, an unlit cigar in one hand and a notebook in the other, his glass eye ever-so slightly askew. It's Alterman as Columbo. It made me wish that somebody in the Washington press corps would take a cue from Alterman — or from Peter Falk — and confront the president with the contradictions and bizarre falsehoods of… Read more

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