John Derbyshire has an excellent reply to Rich Lowry's wild front page story all about us "To Hell With Them Hawks," at NRO:
My first reaction after reading Rich’s piece was actually, I am sorry to say, a quip:
Q: What’s the difference between a Lowrian “Let’s Try to Democratize Them” hawk and a Derbyshirean THWTH?
A: About a year.
As I said, though, I find it hard to take any of these historical analogies seriously. This is not 1945 or 1968. Still less is it 1815. Historical analogies will not help us much here. We have to make judgments about the quantity and quality of our resources, the size and nature of our enemy, and the temper of our people. Then we have to choose one of the only three possible broad approaches to the threats we face.
(1) Stand proud and secure, a commercial republic jealously guarding our own territory, but not trespassing on other peoples’. This is the posture we nowadays call “paleocon.” As a friend of this persuasion put it to me: “Nobody is mad at Switzerland.”
(2) Strike out at those who insult us and harm our interests — preemptively, when we believe we have cause. Do so without apology or regret. Only do so, however, with punitive or monitory intent, or to remove some plain visible threat (e.g. nuclear-weapon plants), and do not stay around to get involved. This is usually called the “Jacksonian” approach, though this is not perfectly accurate, since Old Hickory was not in the least averse to a spot of territorial expansion.
(3) Go out into the world proselytizing for rational, consensual government — “democracy.” Attempt to actually impose it, when opportunity arises. As President Bush said in his report to Congress the other day: “We seek to shape the world, not merely be shaped by it." This is commonly called “Wilsonianism,” though the usage here needs even more qualifying than “Jacksonian” does.
Any one of these can be misrepresented, and we may be sure that whichever one we settle on will be misrepresented. Number 1 can be portrayed as huddling fearfully behind high walls; number 2 as unilateralist bullying; number 3 as arrogant imperialism. Since these three are the only broad strategic approaches available to us, we must bear with the misrepresentations as best we can, and calmly decide which path best fits our abilities, interests, and national temperament. It seems to me that number 2, the THWTH approach, must be our choice. More than that: I think number 2 is so supremely consonant with our present requirements, capacities, and mood, that its gravitational pull will soon draw all thoughtful patriots into orbit around it — yes, including Rich Lowry. So that quip I started with was actually no quip: It was meant as a prediction. But you knew that.
Something sensible in The Guardian, albeit on a frivolous subject. This makes a change, because The Guardian usually says silly things about serious subjects. Thanks to Harry's Place for alerting me to the Lucy Mangan's fatwah on the iPod:
It's not enough that I have to feign interest in people's offspring ("He got a toy out and said 'ugbublububla'? I am convulsed with joy") or people's cats (I have cats. I know for a fact that they tend to behave largely in the manner of furry lesser mammals. End. Of. Story) or even people's dreams ("Really? You found yourself in a purple hospital? And then something else of no narrative, emotional or spiritual significance was thrown up by the random firing of synapses while you slept? You should write these things down and post them on a website: witlessmaunderings.com).
No, now I have to dredge up, from somewhere in the farthest reaches of that howling, desolate land of shrieking winds and scouring dust where cower the remains of what I once could call a soul, the semblance of regard for - of all the pointless, tedious, deathless objects in this godforsaken world - people's iPods.
Quite when it became acceptable to thrust a piece of hardware at me and ramble on about its gigabytes, shuffle facilities, twin cylinders, low-carb options or whatever it is that spews from the mouths of besotted owners into my personal space like sewage into a popular sea resort and making me want to cut their hearts out with a spoon, I do not know. But I see now, dear friends, that the rage and despair etched on my puce and tearstained face was not eloquent enough to penetrate the imbecilic hides surrounding your fool selves, and so, on a day when the Office for National Statistics has added one of Satan's own devices to the national shopping basket and the diabolic helpmeets at Apple have wrapped a Hammersmith church in a gigantic advert for it, the time has evidently come for me to lay out my objections to the machine and its owners more clearly.
Yes, it is clever that something so small can carry so many tunes. But - and here's the thing - they can all do it. After you have seen one, I find, the innovatory aspect is fully grasped and it is time to move on. Please remember, what you have actually done is buy a jumped-up Walkman. Not an immutable aura of cool, not an unassailable reputation as a champion surfer of the bleeding edge of technology, not a life, not even a lifestyle. You have bought a pretty box that plays music. Add a plastic ballerina and some earrings from Claire's Accessories and nothing separates you from a 11- year-old girl in a stuffy bedroom in Woking waiting for her spots to fade and the fun to begin. Nothing at all.
Also, I prefer my exploitation by modern western capitalism to be hedged round with at least the simulacra of decorum, the courteous pretence of being engaged in a delicate and entrancing gavotte between genuine desire and beautiful fulfilment. As I understand it, the iPod nano is named after the three nanoseconds it takes to break and the four more it takes for Apple to bring out a replacement model. I don't know if there is a song, Crapping On the Consumer from a Very Great Height, by the Corporate Behemoths, but if so, I suggest you download it immediately and press play.
Lucy Mangan is a little unfair. The iPod serves God as well as Mammon. The Pope has one:
The Pope's new 2-gigabyte digital audio player already was loaded with a sampling of the radio's programming in English, Italian and German and musical compositions by Ludwig van Beethoven, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Frederic Chopin, Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky and Igor Stravinsky. The stainless steel back was engraved with the words "To His Holiness, Benedict XVI" in Italian...
The iPod also contains an English-language radio drama on the life of St. Thomas a Becket .
What's more, monks have produced pray-as-you-go podcasts.
I don't yet feel comfortable with the word "podcast". Does anybody?