(Reviewed February 22, 2014)
An awful movie on a subject that deserves — and has received — a lot better
The Invisible Woman
(Reviewed February 3, 2014)
An enjoyable account of Charles Dickens’s love affair with a much younger woman whose historicity, however, must remain largely speculative
(Reviewed January 31, 2014)
A thrilling, true-life account of American heroism in Afghanistan in 2005 and an end-around Hollywood’s leftist politics
(Reviewed January 15, 2014)
A very funny if very unreliable version of the Abscam scandal of 1980 with a distinctive, David O. Russell touch
One problem with being the proud possessor, as so many people are these days, of a change-the-world ideology of your very own, is that you come to think of the world as having already been changed in accordance with your ideology’s specifications — which can lead to further problems. Charles Krauthammer called attention to the phenomenon in yesterday’s Washington Post when he ridiculed the claim of the President of the United States that what we are now supposed to call "climate change" is "settled science" and therefore no longer open to question or doubt by anyone who doesn’t want to get on the wrong side of science. "There is nothing more anti- scientific," wrote Dr. Krauthammer, himself a trained physician, "than the very idea that science is settled, static, impervious to challenge."
Quite so. He was particularly, and rightly, exercised by the use of the term "denier" to describe those who stand outside the consensus, pointing out the offensiveness of using a term that comes from Holocaust denial and so lumps climate-change skeptics in with those whom most people regard as intellectually the lowest of the low. By coincidence, in the same day’s Independent of London, the paper’s grammar expert, Guy Keleny, wrote to correct one of the paper’s columnists who had mistakenly cited the 2004 tsunami as evidence of climate change, saying that such carelessness could "help climate change deniers and contrarians." So the man whose job it is to spot solecisms apparently doesn’t recognize the particularly egregious one of treating a computer model of projected future events, however persuasive, as being the same as a fact — that is, a thing that, like the Holocaust, has already and indisputably happened.
A similar kind of confusion sometimes happens even with the feminist ideology — who’d have thought it, right? — some of whose promoters occasionally forget that their fantasy of a perfect, unisex world in which "gender," as in Facebook, is a matter not of fact but of personal choice is already here and not a wishful projection. I got a chuckle the other day out of the faux puzzlement of Dr. Brooke Magnanti, the sex columnist of the Daily Telegraph and a self-described "ex-sex worker" who "has slept with more than 100 men" and whose column asked: "What''s your ‘sex number’? Why are women still lying to men about it?" Unless her career was remarkably short, a sex worker who claims only to have slept with "more than 100 men" — though of course nearly 20,000 (the number of women the late Wilt Chamberlain once claimed to have slept with) is more than 100 — must have a pretty good idea why women are still lying to men about their "sex number." But maybe she just forgot for the moment that the sexual utopia from which double-standards have been forever banished has not arrived yet.
ENTRY from February 22, 2014
My book Media Madness, is available for order from Encounter Books. Less a polemic than an attempt to understand the origins of the mass media’s folie de grandeur, the book is a warning even to those who are deserting the big networks, newsweeklies and large-circulation dailies not to carry with them into the more attractive world of niche media the undisciplined habits of thought that the old media culture has given rise to. To order this book, click here.
Also available, now in paperback, is Honor, A History, which was first published in 2006. A study of Western cultural artifacts, from the epics of Homer to the movies and TV shows of today, it is focused on explaining why Western ideas of honor developed so differently from those elsewhere — and especially from the savage honor cultures of the Islamic world. The book then goes on to trace the collapse and ultimate rejection of the old Western honor culture from World War I until the present day and to suggest the conditions that would have to prevail for its revival.
February 28, 2014.
Wars in history and history wars in Britain and the U.S. — From The New Criterion of February, 2014 ...
Frozen in Ideological Time.
February 19, 2014.
Pop cultural fantasy as a re-mythologization of the culture in the "progressive" interest — From The American Spectator of January-February, 2014 ...
Casualties of War.
February 3, 2014.
Medicine as metaphor for the Western Front — From The Weekly Standard of February 3, 2014 ...