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Friday, January 31, 2003 :::
THIS PARTICULARLY DARING English journalist had the idea of crossing into North Korea with fake papers claiming to be a business man. Don't miss his hilarious travel account, from which we gather he was only spared arrest on suspicion of espionage by consuming large amounts of vodka.

::: posted by our man in Oxford at 12:18 PM

DEATH OF A GREAT HISTORIAN. Hugh Trevor-Roper died last Sunday in a nursing home in Oxford, aged 89. Mr Trevor-Roper (Lord Dacre of Glanton at the time of his death) was one of the 20th century's most eminently readable historians, author of such classics as "The Last Days of Hitler" and "The Hermit of Peking." According to Michael Knox Beran's obituary, Mr Trevor-Roper was a historian who "fought brilliantly to save his art from the depredations of those barbarians who have darkened the face of modern learning."

::: posted by our man in Oxford at 11:43 AM

DEATH OF COMMON SENSE III: A third-grader who took a green multi-vitamin pill with his lunch at school in Alabama was suspended for five days for violating the school's "zero-tolerance policy for substance abuse."

::: posted by our man in Oxford at 11:36 AM

DEATH OF COMMON SENSE II: a Californian bank robber didn't know the bag of cash he stole contained a time-delayed tear-gas canister that went off, scorched him, and sped his arrest. He sued the bank for $2 million for burning him. As a law professor helpfully explains: "Just because somebody robbed a bank, doesn't mean that they have no legal rights whatsoever." Similarly, a woman who was lying on the subway tracks and got run over by train, was awarded $10 million in damages.

::: posted by our man in Oxford at 7:31 AM

REVIEWING Kramer & Kimball's latest collection of essays from The New Criterion, English philosopher Roger Scruton exclaims that "The way forward for conservatives is to privatize as much as they can of the national culture and to establish, in place of the culture of repudiation, a habit of affirmation, which will enable future generations to belong to their past."

::: posted by our man in Oxford at 6:44 AM

"AT DARTMOUTH, it's not that cool to be intellectual." American university presidents launch a PR-offensive to explain that universities aren't just about their football teams.

::: posted by our man in Oxford at 6:42 AM

JOSEPH EPSTEIN has recently retired from teaching and offers an interesting mini-memoire. He comments on the "declining national attention span." William Lind offers some thoughts as to its origins.

::: posted by our man in Oxford at 6:36 AM

THE DEATH OF COMMON SENSE. Democrats in New York City want to ban water pistols. Comments the NRA: "Every now and then, some idiot buys a toy gun, paints it black, and tries to scare someone with it. And every now and then, that idiot gets shot. So now, no one will be allowed to have a water gun fight. Great."

::: posted by our man in Oxford at 6:30 AM

Tuesday, January 28, 2003 :::
GARRY KASPAROV, the world's number one human chess player, yesterday beat the number one computer chess player. According to this report, the computer -going by the name of Deep Junior- had been the "winner of a special championship open only to computers." No doubt unintentionally, that phrase somehow invokes images of nervous computers submitting online applications to get into the championship, although most likely that's not how computers do these things. At any rate, in some respects Deep Junior was more human than many had thought probable. It "shocked commentators by going into an almost human reverie, 25 minutes long, as it contemplated one move." Kasparov, whom this blog has experienced to be a very clubbable man, thus took some revenge for his humiliating 1997 defeat against another chess playing computer giant, Deep Blue.

::: posted by our man in Chicago at 12:41 PM

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