Archive for May, 2007


Sudanese blogger

May 27, 2007

I liked this image and message in the sidebar of the Sudanese blog If God Brings You To It, He Will Bring You Through It. I really liked the blog, as well.

I know it seems trite to say it, given the situation — but you go, Kizzie. Keep safe, and God bless.



May 27, 2007

What is it?


Cleaning out the trash in Zimbabwe.

Thanks to This is Zimbabwe.


The Khan, the virgin, and the pot of gold

May 27, 2007

Fundamentalist Muslims look back at Mongol secularism as a scourge. But, although U.S. rule in Iraq has produced a constant flow of refugees, particularly religious minorities, out of the country, under Mongol rule Christian, Muslim, Jewish and even Buddhist immigrants poured into the newly conquered Iraq to live under the Great Law of Genghis Khan. It was said that during this time a virgin could cross the length of the Mongol Empire with a pot of gold on her head and never be molested.

Jack Weatherford
Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World

Now that’s what I call civil society.

Seriously, though. Think about the kind of institutions and mechanisms that would be needed to secure that kind of result.

Another version — even more apocryphal — stipulates a naked virgin.


We’re talking about a journey from Kiev to Peking, after all.


More nostalgia — 1930’s, this time

May 27, 2007

Two scenes from Die Dreigroschenoper [The Threepenny Opera] (1931), the film by G.W. Pabst that infuriated its authors, Berthold Brecht and Kurt Weill, by removing most of its nihilism. It’s a very fine film, nonetheless. The first piece features Lotte Lenya as Pirate Jenny, in one of the most seductively subversive songs ever written….

….and the second Ernst Busch in Moritatsong, later ruined by Frank Sinatra, among others, as Mack the Knife.


Sandy Denny remembered

May 27, 2007

Folk legend Sandy Denny (tragically, d. 1978).

I loved her when I was a teenager.

Her voice was the closest thing I ever heard to a living bell — blood and breath mixed in with the brass. It’s hard to get from this video, but it’s there all right on LP and CD. With Fairport Convention, she made Liege and Lief, the finest folk-rock record of the ’60’s, and perhaps of all time.

If you follow the links, you’ll see she burned brightly but crashed badly, as so many do and have done. Somewhere amid alcohol, brain trauma and accident she fell in with death, aged only 31.


Was Osama right, asks Bernard Lewis

May 17, 2007

It makes your teeth hurt to say it, but I think he may have been.

Now the situation had changed. The more immediate, more dangerous enemy was the Soviet Union, already ruling a number of Muslim countries, and daily increasing its influence and presence in others. It was therefore natural to seek and accept American help. As Osama bin Laden explained, in this final phase of the millennial struggle, the world of the unbelievers was divided between two superpowers. The first task was to deal with the more deadly and more dangerous of the two, the Soviet Union. After that, dealing with the pampered and degenerate Americans would be easy.

Read Lewis’ article here.

My take from last June:

All of which brings us back to bin Laden. It was his dream and purpose, in planning the 9/11 attacks, to needle the US into Afghanistan, into the Islamic heartland, there to suffer the kind of defeat that the jihadis believed they inflicted on the Soviets. That defeat, as they dreamed it, led to the collapse of the godless Soviet Union. The crusader US, as they dreamed it, would suffer a similar defeat, and a similar collapse. It seemed insane at the time; but was it? I think bin Laden would be pleased with the results so far.


La Jetee (1962), by Chris Marker

May 14, 2007

Another masterpiece. This was the film upon which Terry Gilliam based 12 Monkeys. But Gilliam never even came close to the spirit and genius of the original. For my money one of the five best films ever made. Captured almost entirely in a series of stills, there is only is one moment of movement.

26 minutes of magic. Do watch it. You cannot help but be enthralled.