Snapshots of a changing world:
~There she is, Miss Saudi Arabia:
Beauty season is in full swing and 30,000 camels have gathered for the second annual King Abdulaziz Camel Festival, the largest pageant in the Gulf.
Yes, indeed. One of the benefits of keeping all your womenfolk in head-to-toe body bags is that it frees up all the botox for your camel:
Twelve camels have been disqualified from Saudi Arabia's annual camel beauty contest after receiving botulinum toxin injections to make their pouts look more alluring.
When it comes to camels, I don't mind the Meg Ryan lips, but I draw the line at silicone humps. No word yet on whether this trend has spread to Saudi Arabia's Most Beautiful Goat pageant.
~The Oscar nominations are out. Jorge Ramos complains there are no Latinos, and Constance Wu that there are no Asians. If it adds to the gaiety, as a Canadian, I'm outraged by the lack of Canadians, considering that all these "American" movies are filmed north of the border. Maybe the media can find a Saudi to complain that there are no camels.
Meanwhile, Scaramouche identifies a more basic problem with the Oscar itself: He's a naked man, albeit glittering enough to see your reflection in - like Harvey Weinstein slathered in massage oil opening his hotel room door to Ashley Judd and demanding a rubdown.
~I heard this report on the BBC yesterday, and was profoundly depressed - not merely by the news story itself, but by the antiseptic way it was presented:
British mum Sally Evans had been worried about her teenage son, Thomas, as he was getting involved in petty crime. So when he converted to Islam and cleaned up his act she was relieved. However as she and her other son Micheal recount, they didn't realise he was getting radicalised until it was way too late. We hear how Sally and Micheal coped when they found out Thomas had joined Islamist militant group al-Shabab.
He's dead now, so that's that: just another short, wasted life. But go back to the sentence I highlighted: Why would a mum in High Wycombe be "relieved" by a son's conversion to Islam? I mean, how can you be so disconnected from your own civilizational inheritance that you think that's the answer?
Well, because Thomas was leading an all too typically soulless existence of modern western youth: in a gang, selling cannabis, getting into trouble with the coppers... If your life is empty, you're prey to anything that offers to fill it up: If you're lucky, it'll be some modish mumbo-jumbo like climate change. If you're not, it'll be something more hardcore:
He was meeting some Muslims there and he got interested in Islam through them. And eventually he started going to the mosque. And at first I thought, 'This is a good thing. It's really calmed him down. It's turned him back into the nice lad that he used to be...' I was relieved to find that he'd got this new path in life.
And then the problems started. No, not al-Shabab; it began more quietly, but just as tellingly: His mum and his bruvver put up the Christmas decorations and he refused thereafter to come into the front room. But his mother was determined to look on the bright side. So she thinks it's good news when he moves to Egypt to learn Arabic:
That'll be a good thing, living in Egypt for six months. Because he's gonna have to rough it.
Even after he "roughs it" all the way to Kenya, Sally tries to take an interest in Thomas, now Hakim, and his child bride, and his new job with these al-Shabab chappies:
I did ask him in one phone call had he killed anybody. And he never answered, he never said yes or no.
In the end, he killed between thirty and fifty people. Livelier than dealing drugs in High Wycombe. And back home a woman with as quintessentially English a name as "Sally Evans" goes to the mosque to pray for her lost son.
But who will pray for a lost England?
This is the dark version of Michel Houellebecq's Soumission: Islam is there because nothing else is. Because, when you destroy your own civilizational inheritance, you have no control over what incubates in the void.
In other news, Mrs May's ministry has just announced the appointment of Her Britannic Majesty's first "Minister for Loneliness", another manifestation of the dismal disintegration of family and social life in the UK. Perhaps a Minister for Emptiness will follow.
We laugh at the Saudis and their botox-pumped camels, but they are not as ridiculous as us.
~See you on the telly tomorrow evening, Thursday, with Tucker Carlson, live across America at 8pm Eastern/5pm Pacific - with a rerun at midnight Eastern. We hope you'll tune in. If you prefer me in non-visual form, do check out our latest Tale for Our Time - one of our bonus features for Mark Steyn Club members. So, if you've a chum who's into classic fiction, you might like to sign him or her up for a Steyn Club Gift Membership (and choose a personally autographed welcome gift - either one of two handsome hardback books or a couple of CDs).