Grits with that Scone? If Britain were a U.S. State, it Would be the Second-Poorest, Behind Alabama and before Mississippi

London-getty
For the The Washington Post, Hunter Schwarz: If Britain were to join the United States, it would be the second-poorest state, behind Alabama and ahead of Mississippi.

The ranking, determined by Fraser Nelson, an editor of The Spectator magazine, was made by dividing the gross domestic product of each state by its population, and it  took into account purchasing power parity for cost of living. Several other European countries were also included in the ranking.

“No one beats up America better than Americans.”

Ranking by GDP per capita instead of just GDP means that states with mega-economies such as California, which has the top GDP in the United States (its GDP is also larger than most countries’), was knocked down to 14th place among the states when divided by its more than 38 million residents. Alaska comes in first, with a GDP of more than $59 billion divided by a population of 735,000. Read the rest of this entry »


Landesman: Why Are Right Wing Women So Hot? The Lust That Dare Not Speak Its Name

Cosmo_WD

My secret lust for right-wing women

“I envy men of the right — their sexual lives are not constrained by the rules of sexual correctness we lefties are expected to live by.”

For The Spectator.uk,  writes: Not long ago I was out drinking with a group of friends and we started playing the If-You-Had-To game. The idea is to present players with two people they would never want to sleep with — and then make them choose which they’d sleep with. Here are some of the fiendish alternatives I had to face: Imelda Marcos or Wallace Simpson? Ayn Rand or Yoko Ono? Gertrude Stein or Virginia Woolf?

“Sorry, comrades, but when it comes to the bedroom I’ll have to vote Tory.”

Then one joker said: Theresa May or Jemima Khan? Everyone laughed at this no-contest choice. Everyone except me. How could I tell them the ugly truth: I’d prefer a night of passion with right-wing Theresa over lefty Jemima any day of the week.

Cosmo

Theresa May or Jemima Khan? Photo: Getty

But then I belong to that small, deviant group of liberal-lefty-pro-feminist men who find conservative/right-wing women super sexy. In an age when anything goes — at least in terms of sexual pleasure — ours is a lust that dare not speak its name.

[On progressivism ruining sex: “Well, it ruins everything, you know” — Glenn Reynolds].

I know this because later that evening, I turned to one of the group and confessed my secret longing for the likes of Theresa May, Ann Coulter and Sarah Palin — ideally all at once. I thought my fantasy night of passion would be received with sympathy and understanding. After all, this friend of mine pays a woman in Earls Court to put him on a rack and do things you don’t want to read about. He just looked at me and said: ‘You’re sick!’ Read the rest of this entry »


Chasing Pulitzers Has Ruined American Journalists. That’s Why They’re Edited by Brits

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Pulitzer Prizes winners proudly displayed in the New York Times building Photo: Getty

For The SpectatorToby Young writes: I was interested to read a story by Michael Wolff in USA Today saying that Graydon Carter may be about to step down as editor-in-chief of Vanity Fair. Carter has been at the helm for 22 years and was my boss during the three years I spent there between 1995 and 1998. According to Wolff, himself a columnist at the magazine, the runners and riders to take over are nearly all British.

“Our Yankee counterparts preen about, congratulating themselves on upholding the highest ideals of the fourth estate, whereas we focus on the bottom line and pride ourselves on keeping our papers afloat.”

Wolff thinks this is mainly because power within Condé Nast, the publishing company that owns Vanity Fair, has shifted from New York and towards London, home of Condé Nast International, a subsidiary that is now more profitable than the mother ship. No doubt there’s something in that, but the bigger reason must surely be because British journalists are so much better than their American counterparts.

“we also have an unerring nose for what will pique a reader’s interest, what we call ‘news sense’, and it’s this that makes us the best journalists in the world.”

You can get a sense of what American journalists’ priorities are from looking at a 96-page report that the New York Times has just produced about… the New York Times. I’m not talking about the words, obviously, which are far too boring to read, but the pictures. On page three of the report, there’s a photograph of the paper’s top brass gathered around a computer terminal, having just discovered that the Grey Lady has won yet another Pulitzer prize. The staff are gathered around them on the stairs — hundreds of them — and one of the editors is looking up and humbly applauding them: ‘Well done, folks. You knocked it out of the park… again.’

“Not ‘the best’ as in the most worthy of praise — we leave that to our American cousins — but ‘the best’ when it comes to spotting stories.”

That’s what most American journalists care about — winning prizes that affirm just what noble tribunes of democracy they are. In Britain, we have less lofty ambitions. For us, it’s all about selling newspapers and — pathetic hacks that we are — producing stories that people actually want to read. Read the rest of this entry »


The Slow Death of Free Speech

AA671283: Literature, Music, Theatre

“Once you get a taste for shutting people up, it’s hard to stop. Why bother winning the debate when it’s easier to close it down?”

The delightfully dyspeptic  writes: These days, pretty much every story is really the same story:

  • In Galway, at the National University of Ireland, a speaker who attempts to argue against the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) programme against Israel is shouted down with cries of ‘Fucking Zionist, fucking pricks… Get the fuck off our campus.’
  • In California, Mozilla’s chief executive is forced to resign because he once made a political donation in support of the pre-revisionist definition of marriage.
  • At Westminster, the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee declares that the BBC should seek ‘special clearance’ before it interviews climate sceptics, such as fringe wacko extremists like former Chancellor Nigel Lawson.
  • In Massachusetts, Brandeis University withdraws its offer of an honorary degree to a black feminist atheist human rights campaigner from Somalia.
  • In London, a multitude of liberal journalists and artists responsible for everything from Monty Python to Downton Abbey sign an open letter in favour of the first state restraints on the British press in three and a quarter centuries.
  • And in Canberra the government is planning to repeal Section 18C — whoa, don’t worry, not all of it, just three or four adjectives; or maybe only two, or whatever it’s down to by now, after what Gay Alcorn in the Age described as the ongoing debate about ‘where to strike the balance between free speech in a democracy and protection against racial abuse in a multicultural society’.

I heard a lot of that kind of talk during my battles with the Canadian ‘human rights’ commissions a few years ago: of course, we all believe in free speech, but it’s a question of how you ‘strike the balance’, where you ‘draw the line’… which all sounds terribly reasonable and Canadian, and apparently Australian, too. But in reality the point of free speech is for the stuff that’s over the line, and strikingly unbalanced. If free speech is only for polite persons of mild temperament within government-policed parameters, it isn’t free at all. So screw that.

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Books: Shostakovich, Leningrad, and the greatest story ever played

Brian Moynahan’s Leningrad: Siege and Symphony brings together the story of Shostakovich’s Seventh Symphony and that of the siege of Leningrad to inspiring, heartbreaking effect
A Soviet soldier buys a ticket for the performance of the Seventh Symphony in Leningrad in August 1942

A Soviet soldier buys a ticket for the performance of the Seventh Symphony in Leningrad in August 1942

  writes:  The horrors of the Leningrad siege — the 900 Days of Harrison Salisbury’s classic — have been pretty well picked over by historians; and meanwhile the story of
Shostakovich’s Seventh Symphony, the improbable circumstances of its composition and first Leningrad performance in August 1942, is well known from the extensive, and still growing, literature on the composer.

But Brian Moynahan’s book is the first to my knowledge — in English at least — to interweave these narratives to any significantly detailed extent. Moynahan is not a musician, and this is not really a book about music. It’s about an event which symbolises and personalises a history that, en gros, is virtually beyond our comprehension — those of us who live peaceful, well-fed, well-warmed, secure lives in a free society unmenaced by tanks on the one hand or secret police on the other.

The technique, if not the scale, is Tolstoyan. Moynahan’s narrative frame — his Borodino — is the German invasion itself, the first part of the siege, the atrocious Russian military failures leading up to the nightmare of the Volkhov pocket, and the barely credible stupidities of the NKVD, who routinely, under orders from Stalin and Beria, shot or imprisoned their own best officers and large numbers of other mostly loyal citizens, at a time when military expertise was in desperately short supply and loyalty under severe threat.

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