A Kalder klassik, to coincide with Seagal's announcement he plans to run for governor of Arizona
Long, long ago – for about 15 minutes – Steven Seagal was a big deal in Hollywood. His movie “Under Siege” made a lot of money. But that was pretty much it. Next came a string of big-budget flops followed by a lengthy and ongoing twilight spent in straight-to-video purgatory.
As for me, I don’t think I’ve ever made it all the way through a Seagal film. His stiff, tubby frame, extreme humorlessness and mystic posturing make it impossible for me to suspend disbelief. Here in the US he serves as a punch line, part of the flotsam and jetsam of trash culture. Steven Seagal – that’s the washed up ‘90s action movie guy who peddles an aftershave lotion named “Scent of Action,” right?
A Seasonal Kalder Klassik:
Four years ago, I spent Christmas in Texas for the first time. Shortly beforehand I’d been driving around in the desert out West, and I have vivid memories of the return journey which, late at night, brought me through Johnson City, the birthplace of Lyndon B. Johnson.
I stopped the car to walk around and was immediately struck by the strangeness of thousands of lights representing icicles, snow, and snowmen in a place where it never snows.
In fact, I thought, it probably wasn’t snowing much in Bethlehem when Christ was born either. I could be wrong - the climate has changed a few times over the last 2,000 years, so maybe it was chillier in the Holy Land back then. Nevertheless, given the Eastern origins of Christianity, luminous representations of cacti and fig trees might be more appropriate this time of year.
Since it was my first American Christmas I
In his introduction to Karl Marx: A Nineteenth Century Life, Jonathan Sperber stresses that he doesn’t believe Marx was a prophet or that he has much to say to our age at all. He is a historical figure who was acting in a specific context, and his thoughts should be understood that way.
And so the reader might reasonably ask: Why bother reading a 570-page biography?
While Geert Wilders and assorted online provocateurs may like to talk about banning the Koran as an extremist text, few take the idea seriously. Well, except in Russia perhaps, where on September 20th a court in the Russian city of Novorossiysk banned the holy book of the world’s 1.2 billion Muslims.
To be fair, the court banned a Russian translation of the Koran , one of several available in the country. This version, the work of an Azeri theologian named Elmir Kuliyev, was declared illegal for promoting extremism through "statements about the superiority of Muslims over non-Muslims”; "negative evaluation of persons who have nothing to do with the Muslim religion"; "positive evaluation of hostile actions by Muslims against non-Muslims", and also, it was argued, inciting violence.