FOR DEFENDING THE INDEFENSIBLE
American evolutionary psychologist Kevin MacDonald was one of two witnesses British historian David Irving called in his unsuccessful libel case against Deborah E. Lipstadt, who had written that Irving was a Holocaust denier—for more on Lipstadt and Irving, click here. Now MacDonald has been asked to make a public defense of his views on Judaism. (In January, Slate's "Culturebox" said MacDonald is an anti-Semite.) Meanwhile, Irving, who must pay Lipstadt's and her publisher's legal expenses (estimated at $2 million), is in California on a fund-raising trip.
ROAD BLOCK, ROAD KILL
Traffic is strangling cities, says Michael Massing. If you think this is only an American problem, click here for latest on gridlock around the world. To view Atlanta's traffic jams—the worst in the nation—click here. Like weather, traffic has become "news" (or maybe just mundane narrative: Click here for a dull tale of Florida gridlock), and when accompanied by an accident, traffic is "breaking news" (see the National Transportation Safety Board's investigation of major accidents). If the highways can be both deadly and deadly boring, they're also a cause of rage. To see if you're prone to road rage, take the American Automobile Association's test. After surviving a head-on collision, Time art critic Robert Hughes said, "There was no damage to my spine or to my eyes or to my brain or to my balls, and these are the essential components of a critic's activity. I feel as though I've been handed something on a plate, namely the rest of my life." For French film director Jacques Tati, gridlock was comedy, but in Jean-Luc Godard's Weekend (1968), gridlock is a massacre, less about the wreckage of modern life than about modern life as wreckage.
GIRLS ON TOP?
Writing in the Atlantic Monthly, Christina Hoff Sommers attacks the work of developmental psychologist Carol Gilligan: "The research commonly cited to support claims of male privilege and male sinfulness is riddled with errors." Gilligan replies to the charges here. In other gender news, Mary Warnock lambastes feminist philosophers for relativism: " I'm not going to take one single step down the postmodernist path which says there is no such thing as one truth."
For Edward Said, Jean-Paul Sartre "has always been one of the great intellectual heroes of the 20th century, a man whose insight and intellectual gifts were at the service of nearly every progressive cause of our time." Director Richard Eyre explains why the French philosopher loved the theater. Search for philosophy on the Internet at Hippias. To join a philosophical discussion, try the Socrates Argument Clinic.
ARE THERE MICE AT LE BERNARDIN?
No, the smart Manhattan restaurant is vermin-free. Read the New York health inspector's report to find out if you'll be dining with critters at your favorite restaurant. Feed asks whether such reports will damage restaurants' reputations. Meanwhile, Jim Leff, a k a the Chowhound, shares his latest food adventure, and the cheeky Bitterwaitress.com reports on obnoxious customers. Search for restaurants at Zagat's. Click here if you're thinking of starting a restaurant in New York. Also, Beliefnet.com asks what vegetarians will make of synthetic meat.
START YOUR ENGINES
A piece by Michael Specter in the New Yorker (which is not, alas, published on the Web) reports on Google's efforts to build a better search engine. Favored search sites for Omnivore include The Big Eye, Ask Jeeves, Northern Light, Voice of the Shuttle, as well as Yahoo!, GoTo, Hotbot, MSN, and AltaVista. For more-esoteric Web log discoveries, try Linkwatcher.
HARPER'S TURNS 150 The monthly celebrates its birthday and a new anthology with a bash at New York's Grand Central Station. Publisher John MacArthur explains how he bought the magazine, and its well-known " Index" is parodied by Modern Humorist.
SEX AND THE CITIES Lovers in Paris can turn to L'École de Séduction Française to improve their amorous arts. In New York, amorous men beware! An "agent" for Check-a-mate explains how she exposes cheating hearts.
PASSING ON John Gielgud, once described by Alec Guinness as "a silver trumpet muffled in silk" dies—though not, as he hoped, onstage. Asked to define acting, Gielgud replied, " Acting is half shame, half glory. Shame at exhibiting yourself, glory when you can forget yourself." Not that the actor thought he was perfect: "I could cry well, on cue … and I could remember lines with little difficulty. There were problems, however. One teacher told me I walked 'exactly like a cat with rickets.' " See other obituaries in the Washington Post and the London Times.
Is Michael Wolff's pan of Inside.com his way of paying Kurt Andersen back for snubbing Wolff's media conference? Plus, more media that's about media that's about media: Jim Romenesko's MediaNews, Page Six, Gossip Central (an index of all the major gossip columnists), Mediaweek, and Publishers Lunch.
TOOBIN VS. THE WORLD First Newsweek's Michael Isikoff complained, and Jeffrey Toobin, the author of the Clinton scandal book A Vast Conspiracy had to make changes to the book's paperback edition. Now everyone's demanding a correction. Plus, kausfiles gloats.
WOULD IT KILL YOU TO FLY? Why, yes, in fact, it might. A pilot explains why and when airplanes go into deadly spirals. And see the Atlantic Monthly's William Langewiesche on the unsuspected hazards of the banked turn. For the mysteries and pleasures of flight, read James Fallows. To read National Transportation Safety Board reports on airplane accidents, click here. AviationWeb and Aviation Week provide useful news on airplane safety and development. To monitor the progress of a domestic flight, click here.
I, INIGO A number of readers of this page have asked me about my name. I am not the Inigo Thomas who wrote "Spherical Retinal Flow for a Fixating Observer," nor the subject of a painting mislaid by the British government (scroll down), nor a relation of a 19th-century garden designer. Inigo Jones was a 17th-century architect and set designer. Inigo Montoya was played by Mandy Patinkin in The Princess Bride. Ignatius de Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, was originally called Inigo. The Feast Day of St. Inigo is June 1. And Inigo, more properly, should be Iñigo.
Photographs of: Deborah Lipstadt by Martyn Hayhow/AFP; Sir John Gielgud by Alice Dunhill/Reuters.