The Long Slide

(By Tucker Carlson) (2021) An anthology of magazine pieces by Carlson, author of the fairly recent Ship of Fools, serves not so much as exhibits for an argument against the decline of journalism; rather, as the author points out in an introduction, they are historical markers from times when political differences were perhaps more nuanced, less toxic and bellicose than our present discontent.  Or, to put it another way, it is “a collection of nostalgic writings that underscore America’s long slide from innocence to orthodoxy.”  (We’re not so sure about innocence, but still). From abortion issues to cancel culture, from…

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The New Manchurian Candidate

August 31, 2021 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | American Politics, HISTORY, POLITICS |

Fierce Pashtuns, over time Teach us what we should mark well: All invaders, in their prime Find Afghanistan is Hell. Since Alexander and Genghis Khan Empires laid plans to attack But a donkey borne to Mecca by divan Remains a donkey, when it comes back. Regression, Poverty, Heroin, Despair Its GDP, after the Great Game; Until a parochial tribe assumed the care Of benighted lands, to general shame. For a very few years the only folks To be pained by this, were local tribes Who stood as Shia or told the wrong jokes Or encouraged girls to read or be…

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Moot

“Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What it Doesn’t, and Why it Matters” By Steven E. Koonin (2021) “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” This book posits facts, hypotheses, and urging which we are not qualified to judge.  It is also full of graphs that gave us acute conjunctivitis.  So what we will do here is attempt a summary of what Mr. Koonin is saying, much of which he says very well, and attempt to explain our reaction to the work, located somewhere on the spectrum between skepticism and a resigned…

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The Faucian Bargain

(With apologies to Christina Rossetti and her “Goblin Market”) Morning and evening Folks heard the coolies cry: “Come buy our pangolins, Come by, come buy; Bats and lemurs, Bits of Uyghurs, Human femurs, Embargoed seegars – All ripe together In wintry weather,- Morns that pass by, Fair foreign bats fly; Come by, come by; Pass the wet market.” ♠ Evening by evening Beyond the fence and bollards, Shi Zhengli bowed her head to hear, Her Wuhan boss, who hollered “Lady, veil your blushes Crouch in your office like a cave In the cooling weather; With cautioning arms and clasping lips,…

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Elegy for the Tank Man

June 5, 2021 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | HISTORY, PETER'S WRITING, POLITICS |

[Tiananmen Square, Peking, 5 June, 1989] — A stand-off in the liquid heat of Tiananmen Square Caused Deng’s conga-line of tanks to begin rolling there. They rumbled down the avenue… Scoping tired students; waiting for their cue. — Suddenly a man appeared and stood before the ranks, Armed only with shopping bags – He defied the tanks, The lead tank turned and tried to pass, the man moved in its way; Then firing came, a soldier yelled but still he chose to stay. — He clambered on a tank and knocked, no friendly answer came, And finally the cameras stopped…

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