Something strange happened last night on the op-ed pages of The New York Times and The Washington Post. I suspect the work of pranksters who somehow hacked into the system. At the Times these mischief-makers deleted Tom Friedman's column — perhaps the next installment of his "because we could" argument for war on Iraq — replacing it with what appears to be a column by Arianna Huffington. Over at the Post, meanwhile, the hackers supplanted George Will's next attempt to… Read more

"It is a mistake to think that Christians ought all to be teetotallers; [Islam], not Christianity, is the teetotal religion." — C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity In this intriguing article in New York magazine, Craig Horowitz explores the strange alliance between pro-Israel Jewish groups and conservative American evangelicals. Without realizing it, Horowitz relates one howling faux pas from Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews: "More and more Jews see the Evangelical community as a… Read more

From Dana Milbank in today's Washington Post: Just before [French President Jacques] Chirac addressed the assembly, Bush and his top aides — Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John D. Negroponte — left the hall. Chirac sat with the French delegation during Bush's speech and politely applauded. Classy. They could have at least left Negroponte behind — it's his job to be there, after all. Milbank also notes… Read more

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

"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

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

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

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

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

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

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