John Wilcock column header


The Column of Lasting Insignificance: October 14, 2006

is making the most movies these days, Hollywood or Bollywood? Well, the surprising answer is, neither of them. By far the most movies, explains the Economist, are coming from Nollywood — the hyper-active film industry of Nigeria which produced 2,000 films last year, none of them costing more than $100,000 and most for a fraction of that figure. Witchcraft and “juju” are the most popular subjects because black magic is “a way to explain why a man has gone from being poor to being a millionaire overnight” says Onookome Okome, professor of African literature and film at the University of Alberta.

IT’S TIME TO LIFT the ban on assassinating our enemies according to Michael Rubin who says that such an action might sometimes pre-empt the need for war.” The prohibition on assassination has enabled foreign leaders to further their embrace of terror”, suggests the editor of the Middle East Quarterly, (and) “if a single bullet or bomb could forestall a far bloodier application of force, would it not be irresponsible to fail to consider that option?” For example, Rubin writes (in the National Review) if Saddam Hussein had been knocked off back in 1990 (after he had been tagged “the world’s most dangerous man”) there would probably have been no need for either of the campaigns against Iraq, and similarly if Mommar Quadafi had been eliminated after that Berlin disco bombing in 1986, the Lockerbie affair two years later might have been averted.

WOMEN PRIESTS are staging “a far more effective takeover of their profession than female surgeons, lawyers, and architects” reports the New Statesman in a story that reveals that in England 50% of those entering training for the priesthood are women. This “gentle revolution… (and) shift in power” says NS, is “as dramatic as anything the Church of England has ever experienced.”

THE QUEEN OF ENGLAND’S art collection is so huge that there is no public inventory of it, but it is known to contain 7,000 paintings, 300,000 prints and 30,000 watercolors and drawings. Unfortunately, there is no public access to most of it either, authorities having determined that apart from a few works on show at the Queen’s Gallery (admission $14); and Buckingham Palace ($20, only Aug.–Sept.) and Hampton Court ($20) the remaining works can be seen only by the royals, although (writes Charlotte Higgins in the Guardian) the works actually belong to the nation. After detailing the uncooperative way in which her inquiries and requests were dealt with, Ms. Higgins closes with a request to the queen to make the entire Royal Collection available online so the public could enjoy them “as well as members of your own family”.

AS THE DEMAND GROWS for American art, dealers are being deluged with phony paintings according to the New York Sun. “I’m bombarded with fakes” says Alexander Acevedo. “It goes on every day; it’s like a minefield. Wherever you turn there’s a fake out there.” The art world is rife with explanations about whether individual artists or “international conspiracies” are behind the flood of phonies. Former Metropolitan Museum director Thomas Hoving says: “You begin to look at everything with suspicion. Real stuff begins to look like forgeries.”

EVER SINCE COTY produced fragrances for Jennifer Lopez (Glow) back in 2002, they’ve been on a winning streak perfume-wise, raising the century-old company’s revenues from $1.4 billion to $2.1 billion. With the acquisition of the Calvin Klein perfume line they expect to hit $3 billion by the end of the current fiscal year. Fortune reports that Coty is top dog in the mass-market perfume business, its fragrances ranging from $8.75 (for a bottle of Mary-Kate and Ashley) to $250 (Marc Jacobs). Estée Lauder, with perfumes named for Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf in the works, is leader in department store sales but just had a dud with a perfume named for Donald Trump — “a disaster” the mag says.  All-time best seller has been Elizabeth Taylor’s White Diamonds (Elizabeth Arden) which has racked up one billion dollars in sales to date. Next from Coty: Celine Dion.

NANOTECHNOLOGY COMES TO make up, according to L’Oréal which next year launches lipstick whose color will come not from pigments but from microscopic layers of liquid crystals interacting with the lights. It’s the latest development from the Paris-based cosmetic company that’s said to devote half a billion dollars a year into research.

THE WILCOCK WEB: The investment bank of Goldman Sachs is trying to get closed down a website which offers links to escort agencies and strip clubs which has registered the name…. Quoting would-be politician Kinky Friedman as saying, ‘Politics is the only field in which the more experience you have, the worse you get’, the Economist comments “He is certainly the most amusing candidate for governor of Texas”…. With 500 new drive-in movie theaters having opened throughout the U.S. it looks like a trend is returning although at one time there were ten times as many…. “Suburbia is where the developer bulldozes out the trees and then names the streets after them” Bill Vaughan told the Montreal Gazette…. With PBS stations now running ads what makes them different from commercial stations?…. The policy of soccer referees giving yellow cards as a warning and red cards to evict an offender from the game has been adopted by pubs in New Zealand who offer red card victims a free drink when they come back sober…. “Enthusiasm is the deadly foe of accuracy” says Emma Tennant…. A new 5-foot tall “fireplace” (available from for $50) which, when plugged in, uses electrolysis to separate hydrogen and oxygen which then burns above a copper and steel base…. A hardy perennial — the story about how we all consume too much sugar — popped up in Experience Life  magazine…. If there are 12 million illegal aliens already in the U.S. and employers are still seeking workers to bring in more, why not employ some of them who are already here (giving them a fast track to citizenship) instead of inviting in more to fill these so-called jobs that Americans won’t do?… A new drug called Prialt, synthesized from a deadly sea snail, is said to be a thousand times more powerful than morphine yet non-addictive…. A new British charity, Fareshare is asking food companies to pass on to them all surplus food, rather than burying it, so that what’s useable can be passed on to the poor and the rest composted or used for animal feed…. “Nothing taught by force stays in the soul” — Plato