John Wilcock column header

The Column of Lasting Insignificance: February 16, 2008

(Katie Couric’s Evening News) “has been a turkey since the (first) night a year and a half ago… (and) sexism was the obvious, first choice for culprit, and in a way that’s probably what it was. Choosing an anchor isn’t a journalistic decision; it’s a casting choice. And this one was abysmal… Katie’s mandate to lure women and young people to the nightly news was in itself ridiculous and doomed to fail — and a goal beneath her talent and ambitions… she thought she was taking a more powerful job but the Today show… is a far more culturally significant program.
— Caitlin Flanagan in the Atlantic

THE ANTI-ABORTION MOVEMENT’S latest tactic is to support the ‘deprived’ would-be fathers who claim to be suffering from Post-Abortion Syndrome (PAS) which the Nation calls “a political strategy masquerading as a psychological crisis” and “another argument for ending the 35-year-old reign of Roe v Wade”. Because a man’s instinct is to protect and provide for his off-spring, Sarah Blustain writes, his masculinity is challenged when his child, born or unborn, is killed. ‘Lost Fatherhood’ was among the discussion panels at last year’s National Right-to-Life conference. “But PAS advocates aren’t talking about everyday ambivalence or even sadness; they’re talking about devastating, life-changing pathology, which mainstream research simply does not support.”

JUST IN TIME for the March 9 election, Spain’s Socialist Party (PSC) has launched its own perfume, whose creator describes it as the aromatic presentation of socialist values. A blend of Mediterranean herbs and fruit with ‘base notes from the Orient,’ it is said to produce a bouquet of “confidence, equality, progress, and efficiency,” Socialist VP Manuela de Madre claims it is ‘relaxing” and recommended that it would be beneficial for the opposition People’s Party sample it.

BUDDHISM IS NOT GETTING the attention it deserves according to Gugan Taguchi, 46, a priest who has been taking his message to bars and jazz clubs in Japan, in an attempt to find new recruits for a religion some say is in decline. “I can understand why younger people aren’t attracted,” he says, “Most priests are getting on, and I’m not sure young people want their advice.” More than 1,200 years after Buddhism arrived in Japan, about 75% of the population — 127 million — claim to be Buddhists but most of them appear inside a temple only for a traditional funeral, resulting in a drastic decline in financial donations and a big drop in applications to Buddhist universities. One Tokyo temple staged a music fashion show — monks on the catwalk — to gain publicity. “We won’t change Buddha’s teachings,” explained the organizer, Kosuke Kikkawa, “but perhaps we need to present things differently so that they touch the feelings of people today.”

THE SHORT SPAN of power that can keep those tiny spy planes — micro air vehicles, (MAVs) — in the air has promoted the U.S. Air Force Research Lab to consider landing them on utility lines for a recharge. Two problems remain to be solved: how to land them so lightly that they don’t short-circuit the current or damage the line, and how to make them look as unsuspicious as a pair of abandoned sneakers.

WHAT EXERCISE COULD BE simpler than just climbing the stairs? Capitalizing on this basic fact, a suburban London mall posted signs reading, Attention all shoppers: taking the stairs protects your heart. Then, over a six-week period, use of the stairway next to the elevator more than doubled according to a report in the American Journal of Health Promotion by Frank Eves, a psychology lecture at the University of Birmingham. “If we can persuade more people to take the stairs,” says Eves, “then we might really have something in the war against obesity.”.

MAKING FUN OF JIHADISTS is one way to deal with them writes Sam Leith in the Daily Telegraph, because for all its grandiose rhetoric about world domination, Islamic terrorism is essentially “a playground fad” embraced by narcissistic young men, Leith maintains, “infatuated with the glamour of resistance” and they would be less keen to be recruited if it meant becoming “a laughing stock”. His remarks were prompted by an announcement by satirist Chris Morris who is planning a movie emphasizing what idiots some terrorists are.

THE WILCOCK WEB: Why would anyone be surprised that Rupert Murdoch, after supporting Hillary, would have his NY Post endorse Obama? Totally unprincipled, Murdoch has always changed positions, changed nationalities, whatever necessary to be with the (presumed) winner…. A Village Voice blog called “Runnin’ Scared” has been re-running columns that I wrote for the Voice 50 years ago…. HOPE YOU GET A WARM HAND ON YOUR OPENING said the telegram from Noel Coward to Gertrude Lawrence when Lady in the Dark opened on Broadway in 1944…. All those harmless prisoners who are serving terms for smoking pot would be far better candidates to be farm workers than illegal aliens…. ”Some people even think ‘fame’ and infamy mean exactly the same thing. And maybe by now these people are right” wrote Tom Shales in TelevisionWeek…. Los Angeles Times three-times-a-week columnist Al Martinez, who was fired, then re-hired for a Monday column after thousands of complaints from readers, now fills the gap with almartinezeverythingelse.blogspot.com….. A letter writer to The Week says that public places are so polluted by sound that the government should ban all electronically-produced sound in any public place…. Hallmark claims to have sold 85,000 ‘Happy 100th Birthday’ cards last year…. ”Politicians campaign in poetry, but they have to govern in prose” observes Mario Cuomo, a veteran campaigner…. Do not retell in mediocre verse,” advised Ezra Pound, “what has already been done in good prose….” “They say: ‘Dylan never talks.’ What the hell is there to say? That’s not the reason an artist is in front of the people”Bob Dylan ….. French president Nicolas Sarkozy plans to copy the BBC by banning ads from state television… Thirty gallon garbage cans weighing a quarter of a ton, costing $1,500 each and “blast-resistant” are being installed in airports, malls and federal buildings…. After all is said and done, more is said than done — Henry (Saki) Munro (1870-1916)