Archive for February, 2009

Links gone wild! (Global edition)

Thursday, February 26th, 2009

I watched, and listened to, President Obama’s speech Tuesday night, every single word of it. My sofa buddy was asleep within minutes — she says there’s something in Obama’s speaking cadence that sends her to dreamland almost immediately — but I was riveted. Besides, it seemed like good citizenship. We’re at a critical moment in our history, and it’s important to keep an eye on the people who make the decisions. My verdict on Obama’s speech: Neither inspiring nor disappointing. As was the case with so many others like it delivered by previous presidents, his talk was long on platitudes — we’re strong, we’ll persevere, we’ll fix knotty problems, etc. — and short on details. Then again, there’s no percentage in being too specific at such a moment. (Perhaps you’ve heard the Yiddish proverb, “Man plans, God laughs.”) For what it’s worth, the Web site Politico yesterday published a handy translation of the key passages in Obama’s speech. It turns out our president had lots to say — if you knew how to listen between the lines.

It is often said that Europe is the canary in the coal mine in regards to the clash between Western culture and Islamic values. By most measures, that canary is swooning. This piece, originally published in German (and suffering from a ham-handed English translation), explains how European intellectuals, publishers and politicians have essentially conceded the battle. Seemingly paralyzed by the belief that any utterance carrying even the faintest whiff of unhappiness with Islamic values will be seen as a failure of tolerance and diversity, Europe’s cultural leaders have developed an alarming reflex of self-censorship. More troubling is that I see regular indications that the same thing is happening here.

A WAW reader forwarded this Italian-language video, which is titled “heavy equipment operator’s final exam.” If you’ve ever wondered (and who hasn’t?) how to undress a gorgeous woman using a huge piece of construction machinery, the video shows you. Despite the removal of clothing, however, the video is tame enough to watch at work. (The final exam stops at the underwear stage.) As a one-time equipment operator, I can tell confirm this guy is really good.