January 17, 2002

The critically acclaimed art-house film Monster's Ball

The critically acclaimed art-house film Monster's Ball has a wonderfully self-parodying premise: Racist prison guard Billy Bob Thornton learns to appreciate black people by sleeping with Halle Berry! Unfortunately, "Monster's Ball" is not a comedy. The movie - complete with its suggestion that the cure for ethnic animosity is hands-on racial sensitivity training from Hollywood's most exquisite starlet - is supposed to be taken seriously. Very seriously. Click here for my review. 1/10/2002

January 15, 2002

revolt of the range rover republicans - Why do homeowners so often favor the Democrats' conservationism over the GOP's anti-environmental brand of conservatism? Why are conservative intellectuals clueless that attacking ecological protection scares off what should be the GOP's natural constituency: the propertied classes? Click here for the answers. 1/15/02

January 14, 2002

Pathans, pederasty, fueds, brigandage, and smuggling

Back in December, I noted that gay pundit Andrew Sullivan was tsk-tsking over the fact that the Taliban and the U.S. military both had what he called a "weird and fastidious" policy against military men sexually violating young males under their command. For those with strong stomachs, click here for the details from the Times of London on this charming Pathan custom that is now coming back out of the closet.

The larger point is that the reason the Pathans welcomed the Taliban in 1996 is because they knew they have a royally screwed-up culture - one largely dedicated to not just pederasty, but also blood feuds, brigandage, smuggling, and tax evasion. They wanted to change. That's the good news. The bad news is that the best idea they could come up with for fixing their culture was religious totalitarianism. Does anybody have any suggestions for how the Pathans can change for the better? Email me at SteveSlr@aol.com

The most optimistic analogy I've dreamed up for the Pathans is the Scottish Highlanders, who also lived in Bronze Age clans devoted to raiding and feuding up through 1745. Then, however, they followed Bonnie Prince Charlie on his almost-successful invasion of England. Outraged by this 9/11-like provocation, the English subsequently used overwhelming force to modernize the Highlands. A century later, Celtic Highlanders like Thomas Babington Macaulay were at the forefront of British civilization. 1/14/02