Current Wisdom

Current Wisdom

By From the July 2010 - August 2010 issue

The Great Books Series
Hot off the press -- Prof. David Farber's ill-timed The Rise and Fall of Modern American Conservatism lists the prof's hallucinatory problems "bequeathed" by American conservatism to incoming President Barack Obama on January 20, 2009. And now that our modern-day FDR has waved his magic wand, conservatism is in even deeper trouble:

The remnant of the conservative movement found itself without sure direction or answers to the problems that the long conservative ascendancy had bequeathed to the American people -- harrowing economic inequality, a devastated industrial base, ecological dangers, massive government debt, a broken health-care system, a failing social-safety net, and diminished international power.
(From The Rise and Fall of Modern American Conservatism, by David Farber, Princeton University Press, 296 pages, $29.95)

New York Review of Books
From the Travel section of the incomparable NYRB, recommended sightseeing spots for the hip vacationer:
Walking above the village of Mehrauli on Delhi's southern perimeter, we pass a woman with a half-empty bottle of water -- one of several we have already noticed since daybreak. Dressed immaculately in a brightly colored sari, she emerges from behind a prickly bush on a tract of waste ground. If she were a man we might not have merited such discretion. India is about the only country in the world where you actually see human adults defecating. When traveling by road or rail you can be struck by the image of men squatting openly, impervious to the public gaze. The UN estimates that 638 million people -- 55 percent of the Indian population -- still defecate out of doors.
(May 13, 2010)

In These Times
A Miss Joanna Macy, who we are told "has dedicated her life to peace, sustainability and coexistence with our environment," engages an agog In These Times interviewer from her throne at Bughouse Square, mouthing antiquities once uttered by Eleanor Roosevelt:

You write, "This is an incredible time to be alive, a great privilege." What do you mean?

This is a time when such big changes are happening -- they're so big that most people aren't aware of them. People who lived during the Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions were probably not aware that historic forces were underway that would change people for centuries to come. In our case these changes are happening because the mainstream society is not listening, and the current political economy is not working in more and more ways. We're consuming, we're making money out of extracting goods from the earth that cannot be renewed....create huge amounts of waste.
(April 2010)

As reported in one of old Araby's most authoritative sources, an explanation for why Mr. A. Zeb is likely to be named Pakistan's ambassador to the United Nations:

In an unfortunate result of translation, Pakistani diplomat Akbar Zeb will not become the next Pakistani ambassador to Saudi Arabia. Zeb's credentials seem in order: He is the former ambassador to the United States, India and South Africa. He held the post of High Commissioner Designate of Pakistan to Canada and is the former director general of Pakistan's Foreign Ministry.

But despite Mr. Zeb's impressive career, the 55-year-old diplomat's name proved to be the immovable hurdle. When translated into Arabic. Akbar Zeb means "Biggest Dick." In a region that stresses modesty, particularly in public, this could not stand.
(February 14, 2010)

University of Chicago Magazine
In the alumni gazette of a famed American university, the troubled reflections of a concerned alum, who, incidentally, suffers from a dreadful case of tin ear:

Bathroom Humor

Quinn Dombrowski, AB'06, AM'06, has indeed recorded bathroom graffiti that only could have been composed by the geeky (I would have said intellectual) minds at the U of C (Peer Review, Mar-Apr/10). However, my all-time favorite U of C men's room graffiti was in the old music building just north of Rockefeller Chapel. Above the urinal was boldly written, "The effete place to excrete." This poetic phrase always seemed emblematic of the University to me. Still does.
David Joel, AB'72
(May-June 2010)

New York Times
Frank Rich on a roll! Still obsessed by his lewd visions of the pulchritudinous Sarah Palin and her mobs of Middle American indignados all hot to enforce loyalty oaths on the members of the Times editorial board, he files one more idiot bull gaining him entry for a historically unprecedented fifth straight appearance in this famous omnium gatherum of Liberal fatuity:

The Tea Party is not merely an inchoate expression of a political mood, or an amorphous ragtag band of diverse elements, or a bipartisan cry of dissatisfaction with the supposed "government takeover" of health care. The Tea Party is a right-wing populist movement with a specific ideology. It resides in the aging white base of the Republican Party and wants to purge that party of leaders who veer from its dogma.
(May 23, 2010)

New York Review of Books
Dr. Mark Lilla, professor of humanities at Columbia A&M, accuses conservatives of "dumbing-down" "our politics" prior to citing with sage approval a string of grammatical blunders from the precocious David Frum(p):

Today's conservatives prefer the company of anti-intellectuals who know how to exploit nonintellectuals, as Sarah Palin does so masterfully. The dumbing-down they have long lamented in our schools they are now bringing to our politics, and they will drag everyone and everything along with them. As David Frum, one of the remaining lucid conservatives, has written to his wayward comrades, ‘When you argue stupid [sic], you campaign stupid [sic]. When you campaign stupid [sic], you win stupid [sic]. And when you win stupid [sic], you govern stupid [sic].
(May 27, 2010)

The Progressive
Professor Terry Tempest Williams, entrapped in a poetic thrall, apparently after regurgitating a disgusting repast all over her desk:

my desk, I have a scattering of damp leaves and needles newly exposed from the snow: birch, beech, sugar maple, red oak, white pine, and sumac. These are not from the branches of western trees, but eastern ones, as I have spent the last three months in New Hampshire teaching at Dartmouth College. The spring songs of tufted titmice and chickadees touch me with their strength and velocity emanating from such small feathered bodies.
(May 2010)

From the Archives
Timeless Tosh from Current Wisdoms Past
(July 1990)
(Rochester, New York)

A loyal member of The American Spectator audience suffers his very own Kristallnacht via the goose-steppers of the National Organization for Women:

NOW's local chapter claims ultra-conservative Rush Limbaugh's radio talk show is "spewing out virulent sexist language and sexist comments." And they've called upon WHAM (AM-1180) to cancel the show.
Limbaugh, widely known for his outspoken, often outrageous comments, today called their efforts "an example of the new fascism."

"The new fascism is sensitivity," said Limbaugh in an interview from his New York City office. "I don't express the proper sensitivity they would like to hear on the radio...I think that it's another example of the left in this country, the people who purport the right to do what they want with their own bodies, now trying to deny me the right to do what I want to do with my voice and vocabulary."
(May 2, 1990)

San Jose Mercury-News
The advance of civilization as reported by Miss Laura Baione Hayden in the Hartford Courant and reprinted in the San Jose Mercury-News, God knows why:

When I was a child I never counted trash cans. The neighbors, however, did.

"How do you manage to have so little garbage?" my mother was asked more than once.

"We eat our garbage," she would reply succinctly.
(April 17, 1990)

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