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To Lay Me Down…

Oh, yes, as some of you have noticed, I’ve been playing around with the template again, trying to do table-less layout. Some people have written that there’s some white space bleeding over from the sidebar and obscuring the leftmost edge of the main-column text. Please write me and tell me if that’s happening for you, and let me know what your browser, browser version and OS/platform are. I’m particularly interested in hearing from people with something other than Win NT/XP, since I’ve tested the layout in Mozilla and IE6 at various screen resolutions on my Windows system. There have been suggestions that the extra white space is coming from broken links to images in the sidebar, which leave you with a box of “alt” text if your browser is set to display alt text for broken image links by default. I’ve taken out one such broken image link and currently there don’t appear to be any others…

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In Search of Mr. Right:

“Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, the author of Why There Are No Good Men Left, discusses the challenges facing today’s single women, and argues that the contemporary courtship system needs to be transformed“. She essentially argues that social changes in recent decades have resulted in a deliberate choice to stay single longer. This, she says, is merely an incidental change with few consequences for men, but makes a profound difference for women because of the constriction of social opportunities to meet the right man and competition from younger women.

What needs to change, then, she suggests, is not the contemporary woman’s postponement of the search for a spouse, but the courtship system itself. A well-functioning courtship system, she emphasizes, should succeed in bringing a society’s eligible young people into appropriate partnerships. But today’s courtship system fails on that count, leaving singles who have aged out of the college scene to fend for themselves.


She expresses confidence, however, that given the urgency of the need, new courtship mechanisms—tailored to fit the needs of busy professionals with limited time (both in the day and in their window for finding appropriate partners)—will spring up to fill the void. The Atlantic Monthly

I’m not sure Whitehead has gotten at the heart of the asymmetry. She falls into the trap of many social historians, who consider only a one-way causal flow between social structures and individual psychology. For caring men, the difficulty meeting people once you are several years out of college is no less daunting than it is for women. The real asymmetry, it would seem, is in the socially-shaped differences in the value men and women place on intimacy and a loving partnership. Changing courtship structures in society won’t do much to change the male psyche, now that feminist consciousness-raising is passé.

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The Film that Spielberg Wouldn’t Make:

Portrait of Der Führer as a Young Man

Standing on a bare stage before a packed audience is a young man with shiny jet-black hair. He wears a leather jacket and the peach fuzz of a fresh mustache. He stands quivering for a moment, before he speaks. When he does, his energy suddenly bursts forth — like a bottle-rocket.


The speaker is Adolf Hitler. The speech is gleaned from the first passage of Mein Kampf. And one can find this apparition in Max, writer-director Menno Meyjes’s new film about the life of Hitler before his rise to power.


As the speech demonstrates, the film is an exploration of how Hitler became Hitler and of the relationships and choices that could and did change history. These are questions that have been asked for years in scholarly books, such as Ron Rosenbaum’s Explaining Hitler and Ian Kershaw’s two-volume biography. But with Max scheduled to open in New York and Los Angeles on December 27, Meyjes is about to find out if audiences are prepared to see such questions discussed in a filmed drama… Forward

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‘When I met Joe Strummer’

Stephen Dowling: “When I met Joe Strummer in the summer of 2001, to say he was energetic was putting it mildly.

He was conducting interviews at the Groucho Club in central London, his shoes and socks off, and a pile of coffee cups and water bottles next to an overspilling ashtray.

He was in rude health, and utterly enthused about making music again. ” A nice reminiscence. Also:

Other stars reminisce here. Billy Bragg writes of Strummer and his influence on him. A November 2001 interview with Strummer from the WOMAD Festival in the Canary Islands is here. A brief history of punk: “The death of former Clash frontman Joe Strummer has reminded us how original and influential the first punk rockers were.” All from BBC

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Study: 9/11 dust …

…not a health threat: “The dust that gathered in lower Manhattan after the September 11 terrorist attacks was not likely toxic enough to cause serious long-term health problems, a new report has concluded.

The study, reported Tuesday in The New York Times, found that most dust particles collected in the week after the attacks were large enough to be expelled from the lungs.” CNN

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Partnership of the Year:

Why George W. Bush and Dick Cheney are a formidable team: “This war has two faces, one a promise, one a growl. One says we will defend liberty wherever it lives, plant our values where they have never grown. The other says if you challenge us or threaten us or even just invade our sense of security, you will have started a fight that you will certainly lose. Wartime leadership requires a dual message. It has been President Bush’s role from the earliest days to handle our hopes, reacquaint us with our resilience and remind our allies of our resolve. It has fallen to Vice President Cheney, a nighthawk with a darker imagination, to focus our fears. The risks of inaction outweigh the risks of action, he warned this summer, because we face an enemy that will never relent and never recede until it is destroyed.” Time Magazine

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Tripping with the hip tipsters

‘I recently learned about the 1960s-era anarcho-touristic group Scramble!, which used to provide visitors to London with false maps in order to confuse them. Likewise, Scramble!rs would visit, say, Paris, equipped with a map of Istanbul. Why, you ask? ”Tourism was a function of capitalist control whose system had to be subverted,” ex-Scramble!r Piotr Jozefow told the London Review of Books:’ Boston Globe

Peter Green’s discussion of ancient maps (LRB, 21 February) reminded me of an anarcho-tourist grouping from the late 1960s with which I was briefly involved. The idea behind Scramble! (the title was suggested by its Scottish founding member, the concrete poet and printmaker Greg Ross) was that tourism was a function of capitalist control whose systems had to be subverted. Not only that, but the corporate city with its directions and signposts was an expression of chartered space which had to be broken down. Not content with pointing visitors to London in wrong directions, Scramble! produced deliberately confusing maps. These might be made of bread or of toothpicks inserted into assemblages of steel wool and masticated paper. The most effective at outright confusion were simply maps of cities different from those we happened to be in at the time. Thus a visit to Paris would require a plan of Istanbul. With these tactics we attempted to deprogramme ourselves of the urban knowledge that any city-dweller or casual visitor would deem essential. We failed, needless to say, but had a lot of fun baffling ourselves as well as tourists. LRB (Letters, Vol. 24 No. 6, 21 March 2002)