Scathing Online Schoolmarm Scathes Through an Al Jazeera Article about England’s New Culture Secretary.

The United Kingdom’s new culture secretary has been accused of Islamophobia over her views on Muslim women and description of the burqa as a “medieval” dress code.

Accused by whom? The article doesn’t say. By the author of the article I guess, and one or two others. But since totally covering up women is way pre-medieval, the secretary is certainly guilty of medievophobia.

[Nadine] Dorries [has] called for a ban on the full-face veil.

This is added to the article to signify that, like the following miscreants, Dorries is Islamophobic:

“The following nations have introduced full or partial ban of the burqa: Austria, France, Belgium, Denmark, Bulgaria, the Netherlands (in public schools, hospitals and on public transport), Germany (partial bans in some states), Italy (in some localities), Spain (in some localities of Catalonia), Russia (in the Stavropol Krai),[4][5][6]Luxembourg,[7]Switzerland,[8]Norway (in nurseries, public schools and universities),[9]Canada (in the public workplace in Quebec),[10]Gabon, Chad, Senegal, the Republic of the Congo, Cameroon (in some localities), Niger (in some localities),[11][12]Sri Lanka,[13]Tajikistan,[14]Uzbekistan (ban on all personal religious symbols),[15]Azerbaijan (in public schools),[16]Turkey (in the judiciary, military and police),[17]Kosovo (in public schools),[18]Bosnia and Herzegovina (in courts and other legal institutions),[19]Morocco (ban on manufacturing, marketing and sale),[20]Tunisia (in public institutions),[21]Egypt (in universities), Algeria (in the public workplace),[22] and China (in Xinjiang).[23][24]

“Many [Islamic women] aren’t even allowed to keep their genitals,” [Dorries has written], referring to female genital mutilation (FGM), an outlawed practice in the UK. FGM predates Islam and Christianity, but is carried out by a minority of adherents to several faiths.

That’s so cute that the Al Jazeera writer puts it that way! FGM is overwhelmingly Islamic, and is practically universal in, among other places, Egypt. Check out all them 90%s, babe! Or how ’bout that 200 million? How Islamophobic to dismiss a deeply rooted, insanely popular practice that in Luxor, for instance, is carried out on newborns! Never too soon to keep a female chaste, and we know all about infantile sexuality from Freud.

Of the about three million Muslims in Britain, it is widely understood very few women wear the full-face veil, though there are no official statistics.

As with FGM, it would behoove Al Jazeera‘s writer to do a tad of research. As far back as 2007, the NYT reported that “the number of women [in England] wearing the niqab has increased in the past several years,” and the trend has continued. With England one of the last countries in Europe or Asia with no restrictions on the burqa, the place has made itself a magnet for tourists and residents who wear the burqa/niqab.

The burqa, the writer continues, only “captures the national attention when politicians or public figures comment on it.” No, the burqa captures the public attention all the time, because most citizens of liberal democracies object to it, whether or not they favor bans. The thunderous silence that has followed Dorries’ comment, and many others like it from public figures, conveys the profound unpopularity of female invisibility cloaks, abundantly on view of late in that most Islamic of places, Afghanistan.

SOS says: Spot the mistake.

So who will actually go to this thing? Maybe the type of “normie” Trump fans who made up a big hunk of the crowds on January 6. These days, that often means people who ascribe to various conspiracy theories, from fanciful interpretations of the 2020 election results to the Qanon delusion.

A Washingtonian writer speculates about an upcoming DC rally and makes the ascribe/subscribe mistake.

‘The clock is ticking on Rolovich, and a massive showdown appears to be brewing.’

Washington State’s football program has already embarrassed the university way past what the latest coach’s refusal to get vaccinated can do; but of course it’s never good to pile on, and Nick Rolovich is definitely piling on.

(And – not to pile on, but – Scathing Online Schoolmarm can’t help noting the pile-up of mixed metaphors in the sentence she quoted in her headline. Sportswriters use lots of mixed metaphors.)

Rolovich is the highest paid state employee; he’s a very high profile figure. A lot of people – like this guy – have had it with his anti-vax bullshit and want him gone. I say Rolovich should go ahead and let himself be hounded out. He will instantly become a strapping national hero, taking the place of this aged fallen god. The Voice of the Anti-Vaxxers!

****************

UD thanks a reader for keeping her up to date on the Rolovich mess at WSU.

‘An uncompromising experiment, a thoroughbred, a Pur Sang that, in its brute exclusivity, impresses…’

There’s exclusivity, mes petites, and there’s BRUTE exclusivity, which, in close proximity to Pur Sang (“denounce him as a fascist pur sang” – Thomas Mann) makes Scathing Online Schoolmarm wonder just what futurist, vitalist Thing Bugatti’s trying to evoke in the ad copy (there’s exactly one of these vehicles, it’s track-only, and it costs over ten million dollars, so I think ‘ad copy’ isn’t correct) for the new Bolide.

And why is UD, who hasn’t driven a car in thirty years, deep into sixteen cylinder engines?

Simply because, on the verge of leaving for yet another perseid meteor shower viewing/birthday celebration, she has been studying up on the little buggers – learning phrases like Zenithal (stress on first syllable) Hourly Rate, and words like Bolide. Bolides (again, stress is on first syllable) are brilliant meteor fireballs; hence, in the words of Bugatti’s nasty, brutish copywriter, “Driving the Bolide is like riding on a cannonball.” I mean, when you Google “bolide,” you get to one page of definitions, and then immediately you land on Bugatti’s pure bloodlines.

**************

In a much more UD way, I’m also preparing for our trip by reading poems about meteors. Wallace Stevens, in a set of notes about poetry, wrote “A poem is a meteor,” so I guess brief brilliant powerful fireballs that light up existence could be understood literally (the Bugatti) as well as figuratively (a poem), as in

… the strange huge meteor procession, dazzling and
clear, shooting over our heads,(A moment, a moment long, it sail’d its balls of unearth-
ly light over our heads,Then departed, dropt in the night, and was gone;)—Of such, and fitful as they, I sing—with gleams from
them would I gleam and patch these chants; Your chants, O year all mottled with evil and good!
year of forebodings! year of the youth I love! Year of comets and meteors transient and strange!—lo!
even here, one equally transient and strange! As I flit through you hastily, soon to fall and be gone,
what is this book,

What am I myself but one of your meteors?

So poems are meteors and we are meteors as we burn brightly and quickly through our lives. Specks in the firmaments, we are nonetheless capable of ever-renewed self-creation:

And when we turned off lanterns to look skyward

for the Perseids (it was meteor season)

a comet rode queenly across the sky

before it arced and fell. Seeing myself

a speck in the firmament, I remembered

that rock may burn suddenly, blaze into flame,

and spin for centuries before it shines

wanting to be remade. Gray rock. The same

that sparkles with mica flecks by day

when breakers slap it clean.

Nothing is new. Nothing alive cannot be altered.

Where there’s light there’s hope, says the poet; we can always want to be remade, to flame up in some new clean self. We are not mere specks in the firmament.

Same idea, different poem: Viewing the perseids, “we are at once unnerved and somehow restored.”

Same, yet another one:

we waited, with nerves
and hearts as much as eyes,
as if we were waiting for new lives
to open up miraculously
or some spark to jolt us
into different ways of thinking.

I think we’re beginning to see a pattern:

Who said, out of nothing,
nothing can come? We do not lie

in a meadow to view the Perseids
but discover, behind a motel,
a vineyard, and gather wherever we go.

And another poet, in this same vein, is wakened/renewed by the meteoric jolt:

This vastness, this vertiginous awareness
mocking gravity on our speck of now,
wakes us with a recalibrating jolt.

But of course there’s the burning out part, too:

— I am like a slip of comet,
Scarce worth discovery, in some corner seen
Bridging the slender difference of two stars,
Come out of space, or suddenly engender’d
By heady elements…

… [The comet] goes out into the cavernous dark.
So I go out: my little sweet is done:
I have drawn heat from this contagious sun:
To not ungentle death now forth I run.

*******************

As for Les UDs – to Shenandoah National Park’s Big Meadows they run, to lie back in beach chairs on a big dark field and see what they can see.

Scathing Online Schoolmarm says:

Hana Schank’s essay about being in a car accident is first-rate.

Before the accident I went to yoga retreats and tried meditation. I said things like “I just need to unplug.” Apparently what I needed was to get hit by a truck. Perhaps I have discovered the secret to a peaceful mind, and it is traumatic brain injury.

UD’s ‘thesda Jollies

A lifelong denizen of Bethesda, Maryland (she remembers going to downtown ‘thesda with junior high school friends when it was a post office, a Hot Shoppes, and the Baronet Theater), UD enjoys the way ‘thesda’s wealth is threaded into news stories, especially in populist rags like The Daily Mail. You recall that, during Kavanaugh’s confirmation, his ‘thesdanienne provenance was, for some, just on its own, proof that he’s an entitled asshole.

And look at this breaking story from England. Look how ‘thesda plays a recurrent cameo role. And note UD’s bolding throughout.

A 25-year-old Stanford graduate who attended the prestigious DC school Sidwell Friends and is the son of a top commercial lawyer has enraged British politicians and sparked a free speech row in the UK by removing a portrait of the Queen from the students’ room at the Oxford college where he is getting his PhD. Matthew Katzman grew up in privilege in Bethesda, Maryland, a rich suburb of DC where he attended school with the Obama daughters, the Biden grandchildren and countless other politicians’ kids. After graduating from Sidwell in 2014, he studied math and theoretical computer science at Stanford, obtaining a masters in 2018. Katzman is now getting his PhD in computer science from Oxford, the historic university attended by British Prime Ministers.

This week, he sparked fury by leading calls to remove a portrait of the Queen from the common room at Magdalen College in his role as president of Magdalen’s Middle Common Room, an organization of around 200 graduate students. They decided between them that the portrait was ‘unwelcoming’ and represents ‘recent colonial history’. They’re going to replace it with ‘art by or of other influential and inspirational people’.

The decision has been blasted as ‘absurd’ by British politicians who say the young students ought to ‘show some respect’ for the 95-year-old Monarch. British Education Secretary Gavin Williamson tweeted: ‘Oxford University students removing a picture of the Queen is simply absurd. She is the Head of State and a symbol of what is best about the UK. During her long reign she has worked tirelessly to promote British values of tolerance, inclusivity & respect around the world.’

Katzman is the son of Scott and Sandy Katzman, both 65. His father is a partner at the commercial law firm Steptoe & Johnson. The family lives in a sprawling, $4million home in Bethesda. They have not yet commented on the row their son has unapologetically caused.

Let’s start with numbers. Between refers to something involving only two people; the writer should have used among, says Scathing Online Schoolmarm. And about that house value: Achingly, it’s only valued in the mid-threes (or even lower) rather than four by most of the assessment sites UD checked. On the other hand, it does indeed seem to sprawl.

Okay, so note how The Daily Mail has laid it on real thick, ‘thesdawise. Katzman’s top, rich, privileged and prestigious, with his race horses and castles and land … I mean with his fancy schools and affluent parents; and with all those advantages he still takes down a portrait of the Queen…

Amid the British rage Katzman has excited (the story’s burning up the wires), the president of Oxford College issues a calm and lucid statement of support. Short version: The kids are alright.

Ah hell. Let’s do the long version.

Here are some facts about Magdalen College and HM the Queen. The Middle Common Room is an organisation of graduate students. They don’t represent the College. A few years ago, in about 2013, they bought a print of a photo of the Queen to decorate their common room.

They recently voted to take it down. Both of these decisions are their own to take, not the College’s. Magdalen strongly supports free speech and political debate, and the MCR’S right to autonomy. Maybe they’ll vote to put it up again, maybe they won’t. Meanwhile, the photo will be safely stored.

Oh, and back to numbers for a minute. Most young Brits would like to do far more than take down the Queen’s portrait, so it clearly falls to the old farts to collapse onto their fainting couches when some college students start to mix things up. And while the Queen is indeed an impressive and even inspirational person, the larger royal family… ain’t as grody as the Spaniards, to be sure, but the Windsors have long contributed more than their share of louche behavior to the commonwealth, and people have a right to oppose them as heads of state if they like. UD understands that the prospect of Charles The Next has alarmed enough Brits that many would like the crown to leapfrog over him to his blander, grander, son.

Anyway, what you’ve got here is dueling elitisms – premodern and postmodern. Katzman embodies the global reign of the symbolic analysts; Elizabeth is… from another time.

Scathing Online Schoolmarm says: Some people are just good writers.

And they pop up in the strangest places. Hunter Biden – assuming he wrote his memoir; and it looks as though he did – turns out to be a good writer. One sentence from his book has been quoted rather a lot, and if we look at it closely, we can see why.

“Our relationship began as a mutually desperate grasping for the love we had both lost, and its dissolution only deepened that tragedy.”

He’s talking about his affair with his brother’s widow.

Why is this a very good sentence? Well, concision would be part one. See how his complex sentence manages to cover a lot of time, a before as well as an after, without going on and on, or needing to break into multiple shorter sentences? That one little comma after “lost” does all the work, balancing the reader on an edge of expectation (comma? what next?), and then fulfilling in a very satisfying way that expectation. Note that the sentence is both straightforwardly chronological (this happened; then that happened) and emotionally, philosophically, chronological (we were naive; now we are sadder but wiser). The sentence delicately captures a complex, uber-proustian irony: those who go desperately grasping after lost love will only learn all the more painfully just how lost that love is. Biden throws in alliteration, too, to lend the sentence rhythm: love/lost; dissolution/deepened. And a lesser writer might not have known to end the sentence on its strongest word: tragedy.

In its dissolution, the tragedy only deepened is less interesting – indeed, it’s inching toward the maudlin. And that’s the last point SOS will make about this sort of content: it’s rife with maudlin-danger. Note how Biden avoids that throughout, offering a simple, direct, stoical, controlled, dignified tone.

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” The last line of Gatsby captures the beat of Biden’s sentence, its terrible and true two-step.

Scathing Online Schoolmarm Scathes Through a Statement from Shamima Begum’s Lawyer.

She’s stuck in a rancid ISIS prisoner camp, and England won’t take her back. Intelligence services believe that this fanatic (she says that’s all over) continues to represent a threat to the country.

Here’s her attorney on the subject:

What happened to Christian forgiveness? Does it not apply to a woman — and a dark-skinned one at that? It seems that different rules apply… Is it perhaps that some of us are more British than others of us? Shamima is of Bangladeshi descent, does that change her right to British nationality? I am tempted to think it does…

SOS says: Manifold are the ways one can speak up on behalf of one’s client. Admittedly, this attorney has a superjumbo problem on her hands, since her client not only renounced her British citizenship when she embraced Islamic State citizenship, she also committed vile acts (suicide vest sewing; slave-ownership; public support of mass murder in Europe and beheadings in the caliphate, etc.) and has expressed little remorse for her extensive blood-thirstiness. But SOS wonders whether lazily pushing certain buttons is the best one might do for Begum.

The lawyer’s weakest button is the Christian thing. Not sure she’s looked around at England lately, but it’s the land of empty churches. It rivals France for empty churches. If you’re going to go the Christian route, try getting her American citizenship. We’re the land of full churches…

But, you know, 135,000 slaughtered Assyrians later, I’m not sure you’re going to have much success in that direction either. Better drop the whole Christian thing.

That leaves sexism and racism. UD readers already know my take on the there there little woman you can come back cuz you’re a stupid harmless li’l thing approach to this problem. The sexism in the Begum story locates itself firmly in defenders who believe – claim to believe – that women are just too nice to be mean, and too dense to form serious, protracted, ideological commitments.

There are of course many light-skinned people among those that various countries have refused to repatriate. ISIS enjoyed a broad appeal.

Finally, yes: Begum is of Bangladeshi descent. And it is to Bangladesh that her lawyer should direct citizenship claims.

Scathing Online Schoolmarm scathes through…

this response, by Human Rights Watch, to the Shamima Begum decision. (Put “Begum” in my search engine for background.)

The first mistake Yasmine Ahmed makes has nothing to do with her writing. It’s about timing. The British court threw out Begum’s appeal almost a week ago, and the news cycle on this latest rejection is basically over. I’ve got no idea why HRW waited so long to weigh in, but their outrage on Begum’s behalf is getting much less attention than it might have simply because responses to the decision have already happened.

Okay, so first sentence:

The United Kingdom’s highest court delivered a shocking blow to justice when it ruled that Shamima Begum, who was just 15 when she left for Syria to join the Islamic State (ISIS), could not return to Britain to challenge the government’s stripping of her citizenship.

Where to start? No one is shocked by this latest unanimous (shocking!) decision; it followed many other forms of rejection Begum has experienced since her citizenship was… stripped? Stripped is a wonderfully nasty word, so bravo Ahmed; but she might have mentioned that in becoming a citizen of the Islamic state Begum basically stripped herself of British citizenship. And when you consider that Britain has revoked the citizenship of several other ISIS enthusiasts, things become even less shocking.

The shocking thing in Ahmed’s sentence is that a fifteen year old girl, excited by watching Youtubes of ISIS beheadings, secretly left England for a life of Yazidi slave-owning, suicide vest-sewing, and ISIS brood mare sex. That. Is. Far. Out.

Another sentence:

With the Supreme Court’s blessing, the UK government has left Begum de-facto stateless and prevented her from effectively challenging the decision that did so. If Begum did commit crimes during her time with ISIS, she should be brought home and given a fair trial.

Begum’s mother is from Bangladesh, but there’s no indication she has attempted to get citizenship there. I don’t know why she hasn’t. She is not stateless until she finds out whether Bangladesh – which, according to some legal experts, is compelled to take her – will take her.

If Begum did commit crimes there is little chance a court will be able to find that out. Do you think ISIS kept records of her “crimes”? The slaves and beheadees who might have testified against her are dead or scattered. She’ll be released back to the community due to lack of evidence.

To turn [our] back on [people like Begum] is not only a legal and moral aberration, but a long-term security risk.

Maybe. Maybe. But here’s one thing we know: As long as dangerous people like Shamima Begum are in prison camps, they’re not free to kill us. It’s sheer sexism to cluckcluckcluck about what a poor misguided babe she is. Why do feminists like Ahmed deny women like Begum ideological agency? She herself has said repeatedly that the decision to join ISIS was hers alone. She spent years as a serious adherent. Grotesque as it is for normal people to imagine commanded sex with one stranger after another for the sake of the caliphate (her “husbands” kept dying in combat), it seems not to have been the slightest bit extraordinary to Begum. She was – and probably still is – a twisted, risky person.

I’m perfectly willing to listen to her argue that she has undergone radical moral reform; but that argument should be broadcast from Bangladesh.

‘During his speech, [Donald] Trump Jr made numerous false claims about November’s election results and President-elect Joe Biden’s cognitive capabilities, ironically saying: “The guy can’t conform a complete sentence.”’

This sentence, in an article about a speech Don Jr gave to a Trumpian youth group, is itself problematic. It fails to clarify that Don Jr did not intend to be ironic; the irony derives from the weirdness of a speaker who is himself semi-literate attacking another speaker for being semi-literate.

As to what Trump’s lad could have meant by “conform a sentence” — Let Scathing Online Schoolmarm start with this: Poetry is always an option. Poetry can always be deployed politically if people would like to do that, if people think it might be effective. Look at the way Anthony Hecht used not “conform,” but “inform” in this excerpt from a poem about his wife’s miscarriage:

[C]ould it be
That Jewish diligence and Irish jest
The consent of flesh and a midwinter storm
Had reconciled,
Was yet too bold a mixture to inform
A simple child?

If Hecht can twist that word cleverly, can play with connotation and pun (why were we unable to form within her a child; to in-form; to transmit our genetic information…), Don Jr can certainly poeticize “conform” … although SOS is having trouble detecting the connotation/pun/whatever that makes the phrase “conform a sentence” poetically suggestive…

The lad simply means “form,” doesn’t he? What has led him astray is too strong a love for the art of the con.

Scathing Online Schoolmarm Says…

… good writers like Caitlin Flanagan know how to tackle hopelessly tacky pointless topics. Faced, for instance, with writing about Melania Trump’s former BFF‘s tell-all, a publishing event registering magnitude minus one on the Richter Scale, Flanagan executes perfectly that old standby, the hilarious juxtaposition of high and low.

C’est entendu after all that her empty subject matter degrades anyone who approaches it; the only way to emerge unfilthed is to stop moaning and go the other way: resplendent-ify it by situating the nothingness within the world’s greatest, most substantive, cultural expressions.

The all-time great model for this approach, in SOS‘s humble opinion, is Drew Jubera’s piece on East Mississippi Community College (read and learn). When they go low, we go high is the technique. The lower the setting, the higher the cultural references. Try it and see if you don’t piss yourself laughing.

Now of course you have to be an extremely good writer (not to mention culturally literate) to do this thing. If you clicked on the Jubera link, you see how he did it. This is how Flanagan does it.

[A]t last we have a glimpse into the feelings and nature of our first lady, who has stalked through these past four years in high heels and a perfect blowout, her gaze pitiless as the sun.

Okay, hands? Do I see hands? Yes? Question over there?

What is the most famous line from Yeats’s The Second Coming doing at the end of this sentence? And why didn’t Flanagan write “slouched” instead of “stalked”? Though stalked is good super-modelogically, Yeats writes “slouches,” and supermodels also slouch…

But this is a quibble: By tossing into her review without comment this phrase from the crisis-ridden twentieth century’s highest-cultural poetic expression, Flanagan signals the base futility of her endeavor as well as the fun that might be had with it. Readers appreciate this sort of thing: The reduction of Yeats’s terrifying apocalyptic heartless beast to the runway robot’s belle indifférence … See what our world has come to kinda thing…

“I was there at the beginning,” [the ex-BFF] tells us, as though she had witnessed the separation of the Earth from the firmament, not bumped into a model in the Vogue offices.

Again grand Biblical/planetary language of inception is invoked in the context of the start of a chick flick.

[The BFF] describes working the inauguration as the 13th labor of Hercules…

Grand mythic sweep…

When [the BFF] explains that [Melania] will have to wear the clothes of an American designer to the inauguration, Melania is horrified. Her soul wounded, she cries out to the gods: “But I want to wear Lagerfeld!”

You get the idea.

Scathing Online Schoolmarm Says: Sometimes the best writing is of the moment, very simple, and very personal.

An ultraorthodox Jew writes about his uncle’s death from covid.

“He didn’t die because of antisemitism. Or because New York Governor Andrew Coumo is inept or because New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is a hypocrite…

He died because many of our rabonim, leaders and askonim are too afraid or lazy to do their damn jobs.

He died because Boro Park, N.Y., where I grew up, is now run by the mob and not by rabbis.

He died because he had so much respect for daas torah that he believed them while they downplayed the seriousness of the virus.

He died because we were completely negligent.

He died because it was more important to say tehilim for Donald Trump than it was to care for the health of our elders…

He died because we were just too lazy to put on a simple mask to protect one another…”

Prezem Omnimpotentem…

in feras.

***************

He does tend to stir the creative imagination. Also really great writing. This, says Scathing Online Schoolmarm, is unbeatable. Highlights from a tightly organized, tonally controlled, brilliantly concise, little masterpiece:

no pollster left to lie to him

listened to the lethal quackery

harmful and bizarre

result of a country run by a crackpot

dereliction of duty, son.

fevered with viral hot spots.

Of late, Trump has been itching for a riot.

Nixon is a notch higher in the hell-scape

He’s Trump with a pious veneer

a timely bootlick.

*******************

And see what he’s about in his final paragraph? See all the ys, all the ee sounds that come off the page? The writer knows how to make prose poetic, and therefore much more coherent and powerful.

But there’s another image, equally satisfying. Trump could play one last gambit in the dictator’s checklist and refuse to leave office on Jan. 20 — election or no election — as required by the Constitution. If he does this, a weary nation would be rewarded with a presidential perp walk, as Trump is escorted out of the White House and into infamy by the military police.

If you lack the alliteration, assonance, perfect-wordism, and tonal cool this writer enjoys in abundance, sorry. Not everybody gets the style goodies. But you can learn a lot by reading him carefully.

SOS says: Whether Depp or Depardieu, it’s not easy to know how to write about, uh, le phénomène Elvis …

This is a pretty good try.

As [John] Waters told NPR’s Terry Gross in 2019, “Bitter and old age really is a depressing moment. And when you’re 23, you can be angry, you can be a drug addict, a drunk, and you can be sexy. But [when you’re older], it doesn’t look so good.”

This is the Johnny we’re seeing now. The movie star who would turn talk show hosts David Letterman and Charlie Rose into babbling idiots, murmuring “You’re so cool” over and over to his face; the Johnny Depp who, once he decided to go mainstream, horrified Disney execs by playing Captain Jack Sparrow as a drunk Keith Richards and turning the “Pirates” movies into a global juggernaut anyway; the Johnny Depp who would quietly dress up as Captain Jack and visit children’s hospitals, never for publicity but because his own daughter nearly died when she was little — that still-crushworthy Depp is gone.

It’s painful to see the Depp we’re seeing in court, pushing 60 with bad teeth, evidence submitted that he’s taking booze and lines of coke for lunch, passed out on the floor and finding poop in his bed.

Good use of details.

More on the social significance of country club golf.

A recent post considers why the following sentence –

This matter is already well known in the golfing world, domestically and internationally, and our Club has become a laughingstock.

– is itself something of a laughingstock. The sentence comes from a super-serious protest letter, whose writer announces his intention to resign from his country club because the club retains as members two soon to be incarcerated felons.

Scathing Online Schoolmarm suggested in that post that since the public mind identifies country club golf as the ultimate trivial pastime of the idle rich, attaching heavy geopolitical language to it just sounds funny, jarring – it’s the sort of juxtapositional (mixing the serious with the superficial) humor we associate with Oscar Wilde (divorces are made in heaven, etc,. etc., etc.). The more trivial the activity, in other words, the more susceptible it is to the rather easy comic operation involving its assimilation into the world of weighty things. (“Algernon: Well, one must be serious about something, if one wants to have any amusement in life. I happen to be serious about Bunburying. What on earth you are serious about I haven’t got the remotest idea. About everything, I should fancy. You have such an absolutely trivial nature.” “Algernon: Well, I can’t eat muffins in an agitated manner. … When I am in trouble, eating is the only thing that consoles me. Indeed, when I am in really great trouble, as any one who knows me intimately will tell you, I refuse everything except food and drink.”)

Of course, it goes the other way too. When a person powerfully identified as the idle golf-playing rich assumes a very serious job indeed, he makes himself vulnerable to a special sort of critique. Among the responses to a New York Times article about Trump’s apparent indifference to information he received about the Russian government giving money to Taliban soldiers for killing American fighters is this one, from the father of a combatant:

Perhaps if Trump is not too busy playing golf … he could find time to attend [an intelligence] briefing?

My kid is in a combat zone and I’d like to see him again. My kid is important to me.

Nothing against playing golf. But if you’re lining up a putt while Rome burns…

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