The instinct to imperial conquest has long passed into the universe, but Captain Kirk is still with us, appearing on Broadway today as William Shatner. This outward movement was most poignantly observed by Walt Whitman in his poem of 1871, “Passage to India.” And was this not God’s plan from the first, asked Whitman, that we would travel across the seas to India and beyond; to Sirius, to Jupiter?
Sports & Entertainment
“A lot of people are reading political themes into it,” said Stuart Varney on his morning Fox Business show. Reviews are right to feel uncertain about “The Hunger Games.” A new generation identifies with it and rises with it. It is insidious and deep like a changing tide and it reaches in symbol to the deepest anthropological feminine cord; that of Diana, the huntress. Incidentally, so did Sarah Palin. The New York Times’s front-page review in the first line links the picture with the words “teenage survivalist” — the phrase associated with random right militia movements of the 1980s. Others have asked correctly if “The Hunger Games” insinuates “Tea Party” values. No, but yes.
The book was published in 2008 and it was April 2009 when the phrase “Tea Party” came into vogue with the daily rantings of Glenn Beck and Fox and Co. But it does bring to mind the “prehistory” of the Tea Party and the values of Jeffersonian opposition that came to oppose in the George W. Bush era when it appears that Suzanne Collins was writing her trilogy.
The gods hide in low places, they used to say, meaning the simple truths are everywhere apparent and can be told in the simplest tales. One such tale is “The Phantom of the Opera,” best watched with children or grandchildren. Joel Schumacher's 2004 version featuring Emmy Rossum and Gerard Butler is the best. This story has been told a dozen times and will be told again. Possibly nothing tells of the death of Europe like this tale. Worth seeing again because since the fabled fire in the opera house Europe has not recovered. Likely now it never will. It is replaced by varied economic zones which all strive to be the same and which now, with Germany dominant, are required by law and regulation to be the same. And to be more like Germany. Today, instead of Europe we have stylish, modernist economic zones which are heading instead to a nowhereland like that of District 12, the home of Katniss and Prim in the tale of committed love and liberation, “The Hunger Games.” But that which was once Europe no longer really exists.
Before I came to this, the work I did consisted of looking at the world as pictures without words: the Beatles rushing down the stairs together at JFK, Neil Armstrong on the moon, Salvador Dali's 1943 painting of an American messiah climbing out of an egg and another messiah same year in a football helmet, Emanuel Gootlieb Leutze’s painting of Washington crossing the Delaware, Holbein’s full portrait of Henry VIII which signified the beginning of our age. Without words, they form patterns and tell the inner story of our passage. One such photo occurred this week at the Grammy Awards. A sensational iconic photograph taken by AP’s Matt Sayles of Lady Gaga standing alone in the audience, looking mournfully to the left. It has that same quality of James McNeill Whistler’s “Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1” of an elderly woman who appears to be trying to remember something lost or forgotten. Lady Gaga has dressed herself in mourning and like Whistler’s mother, she appears to be mourning for an age passed. Mourning for herself.
This past weekend the entertainment world lost one of its biggest stars with the death of Whitney Houston. Based on the news coverage of this event, you would think that much more was lost than an individual life.
Although any loss of life is tragic, the obsession of our culture with celebrity is reminiscent of the adulation bestowed upon royalty and sports figures in many other cultures. This also reminds us of the undue attention paid to athletes and famous people in the Roman and Greek empires prior to their fall.
Sir Winston Churchill reportedly once approached his foil Lady Astor with a startling proposition, stating, "Lady Astor, if I gave you a million pounds would you sleep with me?" To which Lady Astor, somewhat flustered and flattered, accepted. Churchill then asked, "Lady Astor, if I gave you 10 pounds would you sleep with me?" To which she replied indignantly, "Mr. Churchill, what do you think I am?" with the reply, "Lady, we have established what you are, we are just negotiating price."
The Federal Communications Commission finds itself in the same boat as Lady Astor on the censorship issue these days as it seeks to determine whether the coarse language that has slipped into America's everyday speech should be allowed in over-the-airwaves television.
In 1967 I walked the night through around two top-secret nuclear weapons buried not so deep in the heartland of Ohio’s vast corn belt. One day I noticed that someone had scrawled on the wall of a concrete bunker, "Frodo lives." Then it was everywhere. Frodo had become an overnight hero of an underground movement begun inadvertently by a mild-mannered Catholic professor of Middle English at Oxford who in 1937 published a charming book about hairy dwarves and little people. Frodo became in no time at all the avatar of rising Aquarius. The Hobbit, prelude to the journey of Frodo featuring his uncle Bilbo (like John Lennon and his son Sean, born on the same day), hits the big screen this coming year, on Dec. 14, 2012.
It seems as though everything that could be said regarding the Penn State scandal has been. What a terrible tragedy. The Washington Post last week shared a powerful (and scathing) review of how various outlets covered the news as it developed. That should be required reading for any press secretary on Capitol Hill or any journalism student. How this story unfolded had millions first reacting negatively that somehow legendary coach Joe Paterno was being fingered as culpable. Only after another few news cycles did it become evident that Paterno knew more than originally believed.
And therein lies the lesson for all leaders in prominent roles: acquiescence in any shape or form today is unacceptable. One can no longer look the other way and expect to get away keeping his or her job.
Is there any process by which the NFL constantly chooses losers like Hank Williams Jr. and Madonna to sing at football games? Besides the fact that they are all about a hundred years old and pick someone whose career ended decades ago like the Who. There is one issue here that can be seen via the use of "psychological types"; the thing they use in TQM systems and in the Army similar to Myers-Briggs testing.
If you take a logic-based employee like a lawyer or investor and ask her to choose between the Beatles and the Rolling Stones as to who she likes best, she will usually choose The Rolling Stones. That is, if she is a really good lawyer of investor. Because a logic-based, left-brain type doesn't have a clue regarding true art, because it resides in a different part of the brain. You will need someone else to be in the group to help in those decisions, and that person won’t be any good at investing.
The September issue of Elle magazine features a lengthy article about the rise of conservative women — or “Baby Palins,” as author Nina Burleigh affectionately refers to them. Included is a brief — but highly inaccurate — profile of my IWF colleague Carrie Lukas, author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Women, Sex and Feminism.
Like Carrie, I was encouraged that a major women’s magazine decided to engage in this often taboo subject of free market-oriented women; but Burleigh’s misrepresentation of Lukas and her ideas is shameful.