1. Pope Benedict is cosying up to the traditionalist schism formerly led by the late Archbishop Lefebvre. As I have said before, and been rebuked for it, I always prefer it when unpleasant right-wing reactionaries are caught up in the narcissism of small differences to when they kiss and make up.
2. One of the best reasons for supporting Turkey's application to the EU is that the Catholic Church and its Christian Democrat minions are so opposed to it. It is really important that the Vatican not be allowed to think that it runs Europe.
However, the decision to prosecute Orhan Pamuk on a charge of defaming the integrity of the Turkish nation by suggesting that amends be made for massacres of Armenians and Kurds makes it that much harder to support Turkey or believe that it is a democratic state eligible to join, until or unless
the charges are dropped and the law under which they are made abolished.
(If anyone has not read Pamuk, they really should. 'The Black Book' is a great magic realist novel about growing up in Istanbul. 'The New Life' is a book about mystic conversion which starts, bravely, with the line 'One day I read a book and it changed my life' and is stunningly interesting about interminable bus rides on the Anatolian plateau. 'Snow' is a complicated book about the unholy alliance of right-wing secularists and Islamists in a provincial town and how artists get screwed over when they get caught between them. He is probably the writer that most needs to get a Nobel Prize right now.)
As Iraq collapses, the pressure on the Kurds to secede becomes more intense. Why should they fight and die for the Sunni Arabs who have consistently killed them and grabbed their land or to stay in a state with theocrat Shia who want to impose Sharia on them? Yet the Turks have a legitimate interest in defending the Turkic minority in the Kurdish lands, and an illegitimate idea to repress Kurdish statehood lest they have to give up territory inhabited by Kurds. If we think the war, occupation and insurgency are bad, wait until the War of the Kurdish secession...
And come to that, just how many times can Ayatollah Sistani, not my idea of a moderate but more of a realist than some, hold back the desire for vengeance when Shia are killed for practising their religion, and Sunni websites boast about killing apostates? Especially with Iran meddling like fury on behalf of the more ambitious of their Shia co-religionists and every Sunni and Wahabi crazy on the planet heading for a country where they can kill Shia as well as Americans and British infidels?
3. I trust that the musical world is going to organize to do something for the city that is the cradle for much that is best in jazz and blues, as well as being the home of zydeco. Whatever we think about the vulgarity of crossover, someone should probably suggest to Leonard Slatkin that 'Basin Street Blues' and 'St James Infirmary' would be an appropriate addition to the Last Night of the Proms. And there needs to be a major benefit concert, soon.
4. A propos of yesterday's post, the younger of the two children who died when their mother hurled them and herself under the Heathrow Express was almost two years old. So it was not post-partum depression as someone intelligently but wrongly suggested.
5. Changing tack altogether, I've been thinking about Charisma's role in Veronica Mars as stepmom to the appalling Casablanca boys. I wrote in the new book about the extent to which Rob Thomas is referencing classic stuff from teen movies, especially John Hughes. Thus, Logan is an opening out of Steff in 'Pretty in Pink' and Weevil of Duncan in 'Some Kind of Wonderful'. And one sort of ally Veronica does not have - and of course she is a mixture of Andie and Amanda in those films - is the quirky older woman friend Andie works for in 'Pretty in Pink'. So if I were to hazard a guess...