Saturday, August 06, 2005

Horray! Ultra-smutty sex advice columnist Dan Savage finally has his own blog. You can read it by typing in the URL www.andrewsullivan.com.

So I'm thinking... if the wit of Dan Savage can pass for serious political discourse in the blogging world, there's no reason I can't post the following here.

Twice in the past week, while reading about totally non-smutty stuff (once here in an article about the IRA, and again in Norman Davies Europe, on page 242 to be precise), I came upon references to the fecund amorous proclivities of Empress Theodora, wife of Justinian.

I had never heard of Procopius's Secret History before, so I tried looking it up online and found very little, or at least nothing suitably titillating. Weird. You'd think Google would be all over this stuff.

Finally, however, I located the offending passage. Here goes.

If you're offended by good smut, or rather if you have no business reading it on my blog, please stop reading now. Come on, you know who you are. Proceed with another task.

On the field of pleasure [Theodora] was never defeated. Often she would go picnicking with ten young men or more, in the flower of their strength and virility, and dallied with them all, the whole night through. When they wearied of the sport, she would approach their servants, perhaps thirty in number, and fight a duel with each of these; and even thus found no allayment of her craving. Once, visiting the house of an illustrious gentleman, they say she mounted the projecting corner of her dining couch, pulled up the front of her dress, without a blush, and thus carelessly showed her wantonness. And though she flung wide three gates to the ambassadors of Cupid, she lamented that nature had not similarly unlocked the straits of her bosom, that she might there have contrived a further welcome to his emissaries.
Theodora is a saint in the Eastern Orthodox church.
Among those reportedly attending King Fahd's funeral in Riyadh: "Czech President Klaus Havel."

Friday, August 05, 2005

Oh wow, oh wow.

This is serious stuff. Dude in shorts and a T-shirt approaches a group of armored cops in an open field at the CzechTek fest. Cop jumps on him and start beating him. The other cops join in: beating him while he's down, kicking him in the head, jabbing him with batons. All right in front of a guy with a video camera.

Having watched the entire clip, the second most surprising thing is that the majority of cops do seem to be behaving pretty well, even chatting with the crowd, at least while the camera's running. But I don't suppose that's much consolation to the guy at the beginning.

(That's a QuickTime file.)

In case you've been living in a foreign country or something, Havel's now in the ring.
Oil-for-Food Probe To Accuse Director: "Lewis acknowledged that Sevan, who is in Cyprus, has declined Volcker's requests for face-to-face interviews. Lewis said that the committee's investigators had used a previous session to catch Sevan off guard with hard-to-answer questions about events that occurred six years earlier, and then accused him of lying when he did not answer them accurately."

Oh man, oh man... This guy would be in such deep shit... but alas, he lives in Cyprus.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Don't have much to say about the Czech news of the week, the police crackdown on the CzechTek techno festival - except the obvious, which is that it appears to have made no sense whatsoever. Previously, I'd sort of been rooting for the new-ish Czech prime minister, Jiri Paroubek, despite his ugly anti-civil-libertarian tendendies, only because I can't stand the alternative, the corrupt-to-the-core president, Vaclav Klaus, and his right-wing ODS party.

Note Paroubek's comments, as reported by BBC:

Writing in the Lidove noviny newspaper on Tuesday, [Paroubek] said the core of the techno enthusiasts was made up of 'obsessed people with anarchist proclivities and international links,' who 'provoke massive violent demonstrations, fuelled by alcohol and drugs, against the peaceful society'.
Note the prime minister's language when refering to the techno kids - he emphasizes their "links," their "proclivities," the drugs and alcohol, and the "violent demonstrations" they supposed "provoke" - rather than what, if anything, they actually did wrong. One might expect better from a man supposedly of the left, but Paroubek is an authoritarian at heart. I only wish the chief figure speaking out against this outrage weren't Klaus. (Note that I haven't bothered to read the Lidove noviny piece in the original, so maybe this is a misinterpretation. Doubt it.)

It's too late for Paroubek to change his mind and admit that the police might have screwed up, so he's really dug himself into a hole here. The president, meanwhile, smelled a golden opportunity. He knows if he doesn't start smacking Paroubek around pretty hard, the unthinkable might actually come to pass: A come-from-behind victory for the Social Democrats in next June's election.

See, I told you I didn't have much to say.
This book review has the most hilarious caricature of Thomas Friedman I've seen so far. Mind you, one doesn't come across that many Thomas Friedman caricatures that aren't written by Thomas Friedman.
Here's my take on the IRA peace announcement. I was chuffed that I came home from a night of beer drinking Friday night, during which I bored my companion by droning on about the IRA, only to find an unexpected message from my editor at Slate asking if I had "anything smart to say about the IRA announcement." Hell, yeah - everything sounds smart when you're drunk.

Actually, the smartest thing I have to say involves pointing out how wrong I've been about a few things in the past, most recently Thursday when I scribbled here that the IRA has said "the war is over." They didn't say anything of the sort. They said the armed campaign is over, which is rather different. As the sub-head of my piece says, in the absence of an Army Convention declaring otherwise, the IRA is still at war.

In April, I suggested that Adams's campaign speech appealing to the IRA to give up arms was actually code for the calling on a General Army Convention, the only IRA body allowed (according to the IRA constitution) to ratify a final peace declaration. Wrong - there has been no Army Convention, most likely because the Army Council was afraid a peace declaration wouldn't pass.

Then there's that whole thing where I speculated in March, as the uproar over the Robert McCartney murder was growing, that things were spinning dangerously out of control for Gerry Adams. In hindsight, the McCartney business seems to have played right into Adams's plan.

Thank you to Ed Moloney for his help on my most recent article. If you want to read something infinitely more informed, read Moloney's piece for Scotland's Sunday Heraldand his piece for the Irish Examiner.

Of special importance - unfortunately I wasn't able to go into this - is the importance of the contrived "divorce" between Sinn Fein and the IRA, with the latter likely carrrying on as a huge criminal enterprise.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Contact: "The use of contact as a verb, especially in sense 2b, is accepted as standard by almost all commentators except those who write college handbooks."

Wow, sometimes you come across some weird shit in the dictionary.