Most recent update:5/1/2004; 5:36:24 AM

 Saturday, April 03, 2004

CHATTER: Blackening a Name

I haven't mentioned Leo Strauss for quite a while, primarily because mainstream journalists have been moving away from using him as a whipping boy, but his name keeps turning up in my daily scans in rather more obscure sources. In any event, here's a taste of how Strauss has been labelled and/or characterized over the past month:

The neocons' ideological mentor, atheist Leo Strauss, stressed that the masses should be imbued with religion, so that they might be better controlled. [Counterpunch]


Embedded's most successful and funniest element is the portrayal of the Office of Special Plans, a cabal of individuals with names such as Rum-Rum (Donald Rumsfeld), Pearly White (Richard Perle), Gondola (Condoleezza Rice) and Woof (Paul Wolfowitz), neo-conservatives who are advising the president in the run-up to and during the war. Wearing the masks that have become the trademark of the Actors' Gang productions, they are the dark orchestrators of spin who worship at the altar of Leo Strauss, the philosopher who believed that truth was the preserve of an elite few who might have to tell "noble lies". [the Guardian's review of Tim Robbins' Embedded; there were quite a few reviews of this one ... I didn't see any that were positive]


Neoconservatives - The neoconservatives are at the top of the conservative establishment. They are Reagan-era hawks, ex-Marxists, disgruntled liberals, and assorted GOP opportunists, guided by the philosophy of Leo Strauss. Strauss believed that morals don't apply to clever people, and he advocated the right of the powerful to rule the weak. The Straussian ideal can be summed up as absolute domination by "superior" people, achieved by means such as "noble lies," physical force, perpetual warfare, and religion. According to Strauss, the gravest threats to civilization come from ideas like secularism, eclecticism, and liberalism. [Democratic Underground]


An allegation that is widespread these days in the United States is that Muslims are trying to conquer the world with sword. The anti-Islamic hawks repeat this mantra like a brain-dead devotee. Alan Caruba is one such paranoid journalist. He claims, “Since the birth of the Islamic revolution, begun by the late Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran, Islam has been attempting to conquer the modern world by the sword.”

One has to be totally out of touch with reality to make such a silly and wacky observation. In contradistinction to Caruba’s accusation, what we find is Christian Zionists collaborating with neoconservative Zionist Jewish intellectuals (the protégés of Prof. Leo Strauss of University of Chicago) to establish global hegemony. [Al Jazeerah]


The neoconservative political movement emerged during the 1960s when religious ideologues found a political philosophy to their liking in the work of Leo Strauss, a professor of political science at the University of Chicago. Strauss was a refuge from Nazi Germany who saw the world through Old Testment eyes (i.e., the entire world revolved around Jerusalem). Had he been genuinely interested in nourishing Democracy (as he claimed), he would have begun where democratic political philosophy began in America, with Jefferson’s Declaration. He would have tried to see the world through Jefferson's eyes (centered around Bethlehem). [OpEd News]


While the Machiavellian disciples of the late neo-conservative guru Leo Strauss currently occupying the Pentagon embrace the crazy theory of perpetual war, there is no reason why the rest of us should allow our children to be sent off to war by a cabal of chicken hawks.[Peoples Weekly World]

Before all this gets out of hand again, it might be worthwhile to remind folks of Jenny Strauss Clay's eloquent defense of her father in the New York Times last year (via Phronesis).

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A few photos of sets under construction for the HBO/BBC mini-series about Rome are circulating ... nothing too exciting, but there is this photo of workers 'in' the Temple of Jupiter:

I didn't know Jupiter had six toes on his right foot ... [AP via Yahoo]

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CHATTER: Interesting Photo

The Parthenon, as seen in through the Olympic flame [Reuters via Yahoo]:


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CHATTER: Seven Wonders

The Telegraph reports on a poll of folks who were asked to name the Seven Wonders of the World:

Only one person out of more than 600 polled could name all Seven Wonders of the World, according to a survey published today. That person's identity is unknown, since the survey was done scientifically by ICM, guaranteeing anonymity. Perhaps it was you.

If not, and you want to try getting all seven, look away from this page now.

How did you score? If you could name three, you were doing well. Only one person in 10 managed that. Four or more Wonders were named by only a tiny percentage.

The lone wunderkind who named all Seven Wonders is a man. (Men are slightly better than women at this game.) He lives in Wales and is aged between 18 and 24. That is surprising, because the 18-24 sector is the most likely to say: "Don't know." The brightest sparks, wonderwise, are the 55-64 age group, with the over-65s as close runners-up.

The knowledgability of older people is good news for the tour company that commissioned the poll. "These are the people with more time on their hands," says Carolanne Dieleman of Swan Hellenic, "and they don't just want beach holidays."

My investigations confirmed a widespread ignorance of Wonders. The first person I could find who knew all seven was Gavin Fuller, a winner of Mastermind (1993). "The Great Pyramid at Giza," he exclaimed, and the next five Wonders popped out like piglets from a prize sow. There was a nanosecond of hesitation over the Temple of Diana (Artemis, same thing). No passes.

"People need to know these things," said Mr Fuller scornfully. "For pub quizzes." A-class pub quizzers also know the Seven Dwarfs (Bashful stumps a lot of people); the Seven Hills of Rome (tricky); and the Seven Deadly Sins. Few can get all the Seven Deadly Sins," says Fr Alban McCoy, Catholic chaplain at Cambridge University, "though they all know one - the same one. And I certainly wouldn't expect undergraduates to be able to name the Wonders of the World. It is not the sort of thing they learn at school."

Dr Peter Jones, who runs Friends of Classics for fans of all things Greek and Latin, agrees. But he not only knows the Seven Wonders, he also knows who came up with the list that has exerted such a spell over generations. "The seeds were sown by Herodotus, who found Babylon fascinating and devoted a huge amount of attention to the Pyramids.

"Then, Callimachus of Cyrene (305-240 BC), librarian at Alexandria, wrote a work entitled A Collection of Wonders in Lands Throughout the World." And what did he say? "We don't know, because the book doesn't survive.

"The first concrete list comes from Antipater of Sidon (c110 BC), who writes a poem saying he gazed on the walls of Babylon, the statue of Zeus, the Colossus of Rhodes, the pyramids and the Mausoleum - but the greatest of them all is the temple of Artemis at Ephesus."

A latecomer was the Pharos, the lighthouse of Alexandria, first included by Gregory of Tours (ad539-594). And the Seven Wonders were fixed only in the Renaissance, when the Dutch artist Maerten van Heemskerck (1498-1574) produced images that circulated widely through engravings.

Only the Great Pyramid survives today. More of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus is preserved in the British Museum than at its site, now called Bodrum, on the Mediterranean shore of Turkey.

Swan Hellenic's pollsters also asked people to name their own extant Wonders. Top came the Niagara Falls, with the votes of half the pollees. But everyone I've asked thinks this is cheating, because the Niagara Falls are not man-made. [more]

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CHATTER: Romano-Egyptian Wedding -- Vegas Style

For what it's worth:

A machine pumps thick mist into the room just in front of the steps where King Tut stands, bare-chested except for a gold lame vest, his hairy legs peeping from beneath harem-style pants that flow from his sequined Speedos.

Before him, Marc Antony (a.k.a. Patrick Doyle of Franklin, Tenn.) waits for his Cleopatra (a.k.a. Paula Fedash, also of Franklin). He wears a short toga and Teva sandals. She arrives, costumed and seated on an upholstered dining-room armchair borne by two "slaves," hunka-hunka guys who probably work the local Chippendale's show along with Tut.

Egyptian mystery reeks as the two exchange wedding vows, the moment captured by a video camera hidden near fake papyrus artwork.

"We've already been married twice," Ms. Fedash said before the ceremony. "We wanted something totally trashy, tacky. This is delightfully tacky."

The ceremony lives up to their expectations.  [more from Dallas News]

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General Tommy Franks comments on Julius Caesar:

Like "shock and awe" battle plans, Franks aims to keep his speeches short. He says: "Julius Caesar was a general. Julius Caesar gave long speeches. They killed him."  [the Australian]

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Yep ... the hype is definitely building on this one ... According to a brief item in the Guardian, Troy will be premiering at Cannes on May 13 ...

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AWOTV: On TV Today

4.00 p.m.|HISTU| Jesus of Nazareth
Movie. In this reverent depiction of the life of Christ, director
Franco Zeffirelli uses the Gospel accounts and an all-star cast to
mighty effect. Beginning before the Nativity, Part 1 stars Olivia
Hussey as Mary and Yorgo Voyagis as Joseph. The Three Wise Men are
portrayed by James Earl Jones, Donald Pleasence, and Fernando Rey.
Christopher Plummer plays King Herod Antipas, who has John the
Baptist (Michael York) put to death. [they're showing the whole thing
... it goes on for six or eight hours]

9.00 p.m. |HISTC| Cleopatra Part 1
Movie: After victories in Greece, Julius Caesar (Rex Harrison),
ruler of the Roman Empire, goes to Egypt to settle the strife between
King Ptolemy (Richard O'Sullivan) and his sister, Cleopatra
(Elizabeth Taylor). Ptolemy, who has banished Cleopatra because she
is legally entitled to share the throne with him, plots to destroy

Channel Guide

7:14:20 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

Click for Athens, Greece Forecast

Click for Rome, Italy Forecast

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