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Current Wisdom

American Prospect

An apparently humorless AmPro intellectualoid catalogues specimens of what very well might qualify as the magazine’s ideal mums:

A mother tells her child that Haagen Dazs is a special medicine for mommies because she doesn’t want to share. Another purposely ruins her daughter’s favorite T-shirt with red nail polish. One joins Weight Watchers so she has a place to go by herself once a week. Another mom admits, “I can’t wait to wean my daughter so I can get stoned again.”
(April 2009)

The Progressive

Interviewed by another glassy-eyed scrivener from imbecility’s Old Faithful, one Miss Arundhati Roy, described by the New York Times as “India’s most impassioned critic of globalization and American influence,” plays the role of the late historian Edward Gibbon bending over the corpse not of Rome but of Washington, D.C.:

Q: What was your response to Obama’s election?

Roy: The fact that the American people wanted a change, that they wanted something else, meant a lot, because the last time they wanted the same guy back, which was devastating. So this makes me feel better about the American people.$T Obama is going to be presiding over perhaps the debacle, the undoing, of the American empire. And that doesn’t need to worry the American people, because the Romans are still around and the Brits are still around, and the Americans will still be around and might be slightly more relaxed. It might be easier to be an American when there isn’t an American empire.
(March 2009)

Marie Claire

On the occasion of Earth Month, a shapely editrix serves up eight libidinous items for Marie Claire’s slutty readership. We pass on but four, out of concern for our readers’ sexual hygiene:


In honor of Earth Day, some green playthings to spruce up your sex life:

1) Love Yourself, Love Your Planet. Take landfill-clogging batteries out of the equation with Sola, a small bullet-shaped vibrator powered by the sun. ($69.95;

4) Wet and Wild. Lube up with Hathor Aphrodisia’s Lubricant Pure, an organic formula made from seven plant-based ingredients and fortified with libido-boosting Chinese herbs, like horny goat weed. ($18.50; smittenkitten

5) S&M with a Conscience. Earth Erotics’ Standard Recycled Rubber Whip is a handcrafted spanker made from recycled car and truck tire parts. ($40;

8) Give Some, Get Some. Trade in your broken Rabbit and wornout handcuffs for a $10 coupon and free shipping on your next sex toy through the mail-in Sex Toy Recycling Program (recycle Sorry, curbside pickup not available.

(April 2009)

New York Times Book Review

More evidence of intellectual torpor at the moribund Times as filed by Philip W. Bennett, whistleblower?

To the Editor:

With reference to the musical talents of the Wittgensteins, your reviewer did not mention the prodigious whistling talents of Ludwig, the philosopher. It is reported that Ludwig could whistle the entire parts of string quartets along with those playing instruments. When he visited the United States in 1949 as a guest of Norman Malcolm of Cornell, Malcolm reports, Wittgenstein whistled whole symphonies on the drive from New York City to Ithaca.
Philip W. Bennett
Hamden, Conn.

(March 22, 2009)

The New Republic

Another sad effort at humor from one of the New Republic’s legendary teacher’s pets laboriously improvising under the fanciful title “The Lesser-Known Think Tanks of Washington”:

Heritage Foundation RAW The new home for policy recommendations too crazy conservative for the Heritage Foundation. Rejecting the sissified scholarship of “Red” Roger Ailes and “Comrade Kristol,” Heritage RAW’s all-white, all-decrepit roster advances an outlandishly reactionary platform in rooms so smoke-filled it is said that members can only identify each other by their hacking coughs. At a recent meat-and-potatoes breakfast meeting, resident scholars discussed abolishing the minimum wage in favor of a “suggested donation,” erecting a 700-mile fence to secure the U.S.-California border, and a visionary plan to privatize the House of Representatives.
(April 1, 2009)

New York Times

More repulsive effusions from one of our nation’s lunatic fruitarians:

To the Editor:

Re “Obama to Eat Local Produce (Really Local)” (front page, March 20): The Obamas’ organic vegetable and herb garden will result in several things: First, the Obamas, along with the countless others inspired to plant their own organic gardens, will be eating fresher, tastier, better for the environment, healthier food while saving money at the same time.

They will experience one of the most powerful ways of connecting with, and developing a love for, the natural world, an experience that has been largely lost to modern society. And they will contribute to reducing our country’s greenhouse gas emissions, as less produce would need to be shipped great distances.

But as one who grows heirloom apples in central Massachusetts, I would encourage the Obamas to make a more permanent imprint on the White House lawn as well, by planting an orchard. Shouldn’t our president’s home be graced with America’s first named apple (the Roxbury Russett, from the 1630s), Washington’s favorite apple (the Newtown Pippin) and Jefferson’s (the Esopus Spitzenburg)? Is there anything more American or more beautiful than an apple orchard?

Of course, because apple trees take years before they begin to bear fruit, it will be necessary for the Obamas to be in residence for more than one term so that they will be able to reap what they have so wisely sown.
Eric Chivian

Boston, March 21, 2009
The writer is director of the Center for
Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School

From the Archives

Timeless Tosh from current Wisdoms Past (May 1989)

Los Angeles Times Magazine

The battle between the sexes gets rough, as the godlike Susan Littwin reports from the aerobics field of honor:

I’m middle-aged and middle-class and I have no history of violence. In fact, the only thing I do with any physical force at all is exercise, and I do that in a fancy health club in the Valley. So I surprised myself a few weeks ago when I nearly came to blows with a half-naked man in my aerobics class. The man had planted himself front and center in a fast-paced class and refused to budge when the class began moving back and forth across the room. He just stood there, doing his own little duck paddle. When I crossed what he considered to be his territory, he pushed me—hard. This was no warning nudge. This was an outright mean shove.

I turned on him like a kid in a schoolyard fight. The music stopped; luckily, no fists flew. We stood toe to toe, eyes blazing. “Don’t you ever push me again!” I said, teeth clenched. “You’d better watch out!” he lashed back, jaw jutting.

Never mind that I felt foolish. What matters to me now is why I was so angry with this otherwise unprepossessing middle-aged man. At the time, I just felt that he was an intruder, an intolerably male and self-important intruder.

The truth is—and I’m fully aware that I’ll be called a reverse sexist, but I’ve lived with direct sexism a long time, and now it’s my turn—I’m highly annoyed by men in aerobics classes.

(February 5, 1989)

San Francisco Chronicle

The auspicious consequences of an all-bran supper on Art:

In Milwaukee, Kevin (G.G.) Allin, 32, a member of the group Toilet Rockers, has been charged with disorderly conduct after a performance in which he allegedly cut himself with glass, exposed himself to the audience, and defecated on stage.

“I’ve done it before, but I don’t do it at every show,” he said. “I don’t want to be predictable.”
March 3, 1989)

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