In Saturday's column, I suggested that, somewhat improbably from the late Sam Huntington's point of view, the clash of civilizations is dwindling down to the dar al Islam vs the dar al Gay. The good news is that the dar al Gay now has a national flag.
This weekend, the gate-delay channel CNN had an "exclusive" revealing that the black flag of ISIS had been spotted at London's Gay Pride parade, and so they quickly rustled up Peter Berger and other crack national-security analysts to provide insight on this unexpected convergence of the jihad and the gayhad.
Unfortunately for CNN, the black flag of ISIS turned out to be a black flag showing various sex aids. The CNN reporter had assumed that the attractive arrangements of, er, dildos and, um, butt plugs was, in fact, Arabic script - an easy mistake to make, no doubt, but not one you'd want to have to explain to the Cultural Sensitivity Disciplinary Committee.
Still, at least we now have a flag to fly for our end of the clash of civilizations: Hoist the Jolly Roger!
Incidentally, I see from my OED that an inability to distinguish between "Allahu Akbar" and a butt plug is in fact the dictionary definition of "celebrate diversity".
~Speaking of diversity, I wrote recently about the total destruction of the life and career of Professor Sir Tim Hunt, FRS over 37 words he is reported to have uttered in Seoul. Sir Tim is a brilliant scientist and a genuine Nobel Laureate - unlike, say, hockey-stick huckster Michael E Mann, who is neither. But he made a "sexist" remark and so he has to be cast into outer darkness.
The Daily Mail, which on many a morning increasingly feels like the last newspaper on earth, reports that Sir Tim's lynch mob was set on him by an "academic" called Connie St Louis, whose bio at City University states:
Connie St Louis . . . is an award-winning freelance broadcaster, journalist, writer and scientist.
She presents and produces a range of programmes for BBC Radio 4 and BBC World Service . . . She writes for numerous outlets, including The Independent, Daily Mail, The Guardian, The Sunday Times, BBC On Air magazine and BBC Online.
The Mail was surprised to discover that hardly a word of the above is true:
Connie St Louis does not 'present and produce' a range of programmes for Radio 4. Her most recent work for the station, a documentary about pharmaceuticals called 'The Magic Bullet', was broadcast in October 2007.
Golly, even I've been on the Beeb more recently than that.
For another, it's demonstrably false to say she 'writes' for The Independent, Daily Mail and The Sunday Times.
Digital archives for all three newspapers, which stretch back at least 20 years, contain no by-lined articles that she has written for any of these titles, either in their print or online editions. The Mail's accounts department has no record of ever paying her for a contribution...
Asked to explain these discrepancies — although details of the claims are carried, remember, on the internet page where she is supposed to present her credentials to students and fellow academics — St Louis said she had done interviews for the Daily Mail but conceded it was 'possible' that she had never written for the paper.
She said her by-lined articles in the Independent and Sunday Times may have been published more than two decades ago. Asked how she could, therefore, justify the claim on her CV that she 'writes' for the titles, she hung up.
So it all evens out. Rachel Dolezal is a privileged white who identifies as a black grievance-monger. Connie St Louis is a black grievance-monger who identifies as a white-privilege Independent columnist.
Nonetheless, on the word of Professor St Louis and her lynch mob, the Royal Society bounced Tim Hunt from its Biological Sciences Awards Committee and is apparently under pressure to revoke his fellowship entirely. They did this without any proof - which seems odd coming from the oldest scientific society on earth.
So we lose a superb Nobel scientist but keep a third-rate lying mediocrity. My problem with all this is that, increasingly, key levers of society are being ceded to the irredeemably stupid and mendacious, who seem to be the only ones capable of navigating the rocks and rapids of political correctness. One has the uneasy feeling that similar scenarios are playing out every day around the western world. How long before the planes start dropping out of the sky?
~Dan Hollombe's recent letter about 1967 as the apex of easy listening has prompted a little intra-boomer pushback from reader Cory Franklin:
Dan Hollombe has it almost right, but not quite with "Something Stupid".
There were two absolutely clear dividing timeline dates in rock and roll. Most people are aware of the first- 2/9/64. The night The Beatles premiered on Sullivan. It marked the beginning of the British Invasion and the beginning of the end for many American artists and The Brill Building sound.The beginning of the exodus of rockers to the West Coast. Elvis may have changed rock and roll in the 1950's as much, but no single performance was such a sharp demarcation.
The second,less noted but just as profound was 6/1/67 - the date Sgt Pepper debuted. That changed music in an even more profound way. It was the beginning of the end of crossover hits, the Beach Boys, Four Seasons, the Buckinghams, Mamas and Papas, even the Wrecking Crew (they would go on for a while with The Monkees but their salad days were behind them as an outfit by then), as well as Sinatra as a contemporary artist and even much of The British Invasion. Petula, Dave Clark Five,Hollies- best days over, Stones and Kinks had to reconfigure. There is a little bit of bleed, but rock music was a much different animal in the second half of 1967 than in the first half.
The first half, of which "Something Stupid" and most of the crossovers you cite, was much more of 1966 and before.Did Sinatra have another hit after that until he came out of retirement?
The second half was much more of 1968 and beyond- drugs, Summer of Love, Doors, Jefferson Airplane. Motown would start giving way to Stax, Obviously The Beatles themselves were a completely different group after 6/1/67. "Strawberry Fields" was hardly an anomaly -it was simply part of the second half of 1967.
Listen to music from 1964, 65, 66. and pre June 1967 - very close in style, then listen to music from July 1967, 1968, 69, 70. - much different. I ask you- was there ever such a rapid shift in styles? Within a year or two? And 6/1/67 was the date of the change,
In terms of Sinatra, that changed his musical career - he started making bad music choices and changed his life as well. Can you say Mia? It would take him a while to recover.
Well, I wouldn't say Mia was necessarily a bad choice, and she's still one of the clan, to the point where she has her own page at the Sinatra Family website. As to the broader question, I'm not sure I have a dog in this fight, but I am wary of all-or-nothing dividing lines. As I wrote last year about the previous decade:
It remains the official Year Zero of the rock'n'roll revolution; it didn't just rock the clock, it reset it: all the Billboard Hot 100 chart reference books use July 9th 1955 - the day "Rock Around The Clock" hit Number One - as Day One of "the rock era". You can see what they're getting at: "Clock"'s five predecessors at Number One were "Let Me Go, Lover" by Joan Weber, "Hearts Of Stone" by the Fontane Sisters, "Sincerely" by the McGuire Sisters, "The Ballad of Davy Crockett" by Bill Hayes and "Cherry Pink And Apple Blossom White" by Pérez Prado. Most Americans hadn't heard of "rock" until "Rock Around The Clock", and afterwards they heard of little else. It was tough on the sister acts.
As I point out, "Rock Around The Clock" was composed by a guy born in the 19th century.
~If you missed me on C-SPAN's Book TV this weekend, you can see it at your leisure here.