Rob Rosenbaum reads Laura

Once, as a child, I had a dream that someone was disclosing to me something I remember as “the secret of lightning.” I woke up having forgotten the “secret” but never forgot the thrill of being close to that hidden knowledge. That’s the way I feel when I read Nabokov.

From Slate.

Just a great photo…

borracho.jpg (JPEG Image, 400×337 pixels).

Paragraphs to contemplate

The picture’s principal song, (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life, is the third most played piece of music at funerals in Britain. Swayze himself made the charts with another song from the film, She’s Like The Wind, which he had co-written. It was later a hit for David Hasselhoff and (in a hip-hop remix) reached number one in Germany in 2006.

via Patrick Swayze – Telegraph.

White Flight: Europe’s modern, religious version

FROM the Belgian port city of Antwerp comes a sad tale: of a school headmistress whose efforts to construct a haven of multicultural dialogue have been wrecked by the intolerance of others.

In recent years, a growing number of schools in Antwerp (a tough but buzzing city, where the anti-immigrant far-right picks up about a third of the vote in local elections) have banned outright the wearing of Muslim veils and headscarves by female pupils. Karin Heremans, headmistress of the Antwerp Atheneum (a prestigious sort of secondary/high school) tried another approach. Ms Heremans is described in the local press as a champion of cultural diversity in the school system, who fought for nine years for the right of her pupils to wear headscarves if they wished.

[…]

Alas, as her school became a rare place where veils were permitted, in addition to girls taking refuge in her liberal policies came girls from families dominated by radical Islamism. Instead of being a beacon of tolerance, her school became a “ghetto” in the words of one supporter. The proportion of headscarf-wearing girls went from 50% to 80% in three years, and girls who did not wear scarves found themselves under stronger and stronger pressure to cover up. The school found itself “targeted” by Islamist hardliners who began questioning certain lessons, school excursions, and trying to block the organisation of mixed gender parents’ meetings, Ms Heremans told Le Soir, a Francophone daily, this morning (no link).

Finally, when term began this month, she banned the headscarf. She described this as a “difficult and frustrating” decision. There was a protest by about 60 radical Islamists on the first day of term, some of whom insulted and publicly threatened her, according to Le Soir.

via Muslim headscarves: the controversy that will not die | Charlemagne’s notebook | Economist.com.

One of the best earnings stories ever

Bull and pig breeding specialist Genus is predicting a surge in demand for its sperm as the wold’s agricultural industry pulls rapidly out of recession next year.

Chief executive Richard Wood said: “The steep downturn was exacerbated by extremely high animal feed prices and we believe the upturn could be equally steep.”

In the last year Genus has improved its herd so much that it has gone from owning eight of the top 50 bulls in the world to 17. Its original star performer Picston Shottle – who became top bull back in 2004 and has since sired over 50,000 daughters – is still going strong.

But he has been joined by younger studs and five Genus bulls have now produced over 1 million sperm doses each.

Profits rose 15% to £32 million in the year to June on revenues up 14% at £280 million.

via Genus bullish on soar in orders | Business. Do click on the link to see the patriotic image of Picston Shottle.

Holy Shit! Koch is Still Reviewing!

One of the great pleasures of being in Manhattan in the late 1990s was Ed Koch’s movie reviews for the Manhattan Spirit, a free weekly that circulated around the Upper West Side. They have become the gold standard of bad moview reviews for me. Koch is a genuine enthusiast, has seen a lot of movies, and might even have good taste. It’s impossible to tell, since he literally can only write in movie-review cliches — like some OuLiPo collage work or Farc project. He’s alive and well and in the Atlantic. Oh the joys!

Here’s a typical brilliant sentence:

The main problem I had with the film is that Larry David, who occasionally–as in a Shakespeare play–steps out of his role and addresses the audience, was not convincing in his role.

He’s big into actors and actress not being convincing in their role. He doesn’t really have much else to say about acting. It either convinces Ed or it doesn’t. And that’s that. This sentence has another Kochian hallmark — the utterly irrelevant aside in the middle of the sentence. When he can’t think of any way to mention an important detail he picks some poor sentence and rams that detail into its throat and splits it down the middle. Another Kochian hallmark is just to move onto something else after four words, and then something else, and then something else, and a few more times before a sentence can be declared over.

While Whatever Works isn’t close to his best films, it is far better than most of the current crop of romantic comedies, most of which are schlock.

It is a Belgian film noir that lacks the sensuality for which the French are famous.I didn’t identify with any of the characters, but the story is interesting.

Although there are some funny gags, overall I did not find the script humorous due to the fact that most of the humor is predicated on everyone talking obscenely and constantly using the F-word.

Welcome back Ed!

British bankers don’t look like American bankers

john burt

That would be John Burt, the former Bank of Scotland chief. Take the least kempt Wall Street banker, make him drink ethanol for a while and you’re still only half way here. Of course, according to the semiotics of British class, Mr. Burt here is displaying ruddy moors-stalking health, a manly disposition for drink and top-class hunting gear. Those popped veins come from whisky and Highland winds, and he can show them like peacocks feathers. (Noted in the middle of Panmure Gordon analyst Sandy Chen sets up his own bank – Times Online.)