Link Round-Up Before Returning To Israel

Phil, one of my frequent interlocutors on this blog refers to himself as a "ninmate," meaning that he comes to me via Ninme. I like that coinage, and I also recommend you go to ninme today for a whole host of interesting articles the past couple of days. Especially her post about Nigerian Christians and the Danish cartoon riots, which dovetails with what the Palestinian Christians told me in Israel about Western coverage of their troubles.

Then, before I get back to travel-blogging, here are a few items of interest I found myself today.

  • AEI & a British think-tank sponsored a conference last week about how our "fraidy-cat society" is stifling initiative and decent living. See the WaTi write-up here. (Dare I say that I'm afraid they're right?)

  • Check out Christopher Caldwell on Nicolas Sarkozy, the man we hope beats Dominique de Villepin in the French election next year.

  • Is it my imagination or does the Holy See's commentary on the Danish cartoon uprising seem rather pointed? Flying into Israel I went through Milan, and happened to pick up the Italian papers on the day the Vatican released its statement that there's no right to blaspheme someone else's religion. But when the Pope met with the Lebanese PM, the description of the exchange made it seem to me that His Holiness is rather tough-minded on the subject. And then Cardinal Sodano said this last night:
"Christians should not claim a "freedom to offend," the cardinal said. But others should not claim "the freedom to destroy us."
  • By the way, just so you'll be impressed, I brought Italian papers with the published cartoons with me into Israel, potentially within sight of angry Muslims. Now who has free speech props with you?

  • Abruptly changing the subject, I point you to WaTi's profile this morning of the funniest man in Washington, Stan Evans. This story, while laudatory, makes Stan seem more like an old curmudgeon than anything else, which doesn't do him justice, since he's fun-loving and loves to be around young people. Not to mention he's been as instrumental to the ascendancy of Conservatism as Bill Buckley, though to less acclaim.

I attended his NJC program one summer, and far from being an ideologue mill, it was a place where you could learn the craft of journalism instead of becoming an ideologue. Although some of the most famous grads are conservative, there were libs there too who also went on to respectable careers (Karen Lehman of the New Republic, for one). I'll never forget the advice he gave me when I went to college:

Never study on a Friday night; never loan your albums to anyone and Strauss: no.

Well, Mr. Evans, I followed the first two.

Plus, how can you not love a man who has a second home for the sole purpose of storing his books? And whose desk has a "Thank you for smoking" sign? And who used to have a three-legged dog named "Zip," who accompanied him everywhere, and for whom he always invented new and heroic explanations of how the leg came to be missing?