Readers, it is not often I have the good fortune to come across a rare and precious diamond of information like this, but it has lately fallen into my lap, thrown there - into my lap, I mean (yes, I was sitting down at the time; no, it wasn't too painful) - by a mysterious insider to the organization I shall immediately go on to speak of; mysterious and wearing a hat and black shoes, as well as other assorted items of clothing. It turns out that a certain newspaper that I daren't name has been buying supplies of a drug which can keep people awake for very long periods, and distributing it to its journalists to enable them to keep writing when they might otherwise want to be settling in for a good night's rest. An Association of Concerned Well-Meaning People (ACW-MP) has been set up to campaign against this practice, claiming that it is bad for the health. It is bad for the health of the paper's readers. One well-known writer of op-ed pieces for the newspaper in question last month went four days without taking even a nap, and the two pieces she composed in that time were so crazed that they sent a dozen readers from Wiltshire into a depression from which they haven't yet recovered. And that's only Wiltshire. The writer herself has been ordered by her personal physician, who happened upon one of her two columns quite by accident, to lay off the drug until further notice. Other incidents have been equally worrying, prompting an editorial in the very paper of the very very paper of the paper to ask itself whether all was well in the very paper's pages when half the people working there, in the very offices of the very paper, were now walking around looking as though they were a bit knackered. The editorial did not, of course, itself disclose the root causes of this situation, a scandalous omission and one which led to the setting up of the ACW-MP within an hour of its (the omission's) sniffing out. The ACW-MP, which has so far been keeping its activities secret - so making possible this scoop - will be particularly keen to highlight the following, once it stops being secretive and goes loud: the editor of one of the newspaper's most widely-valued pages, the Pets Anonymous page, has spent so many days taking the offending drug that he eventually fell out of his editorial chair, asleep despite everything, and no one has been able to wake him... ooh, since about 1989. Despite this, he continues to do his job, some feel as ably as he ever has.
The Baquba suicide bomb left a trail of destruction, obliterating market stalls and destroying several buildings. As well as tearing through scores of civilians as they shopped at the market, the bomb struck a group of men lining up at a nearby recruiting office for the Iraqi police.
[A] minibus packed with explosives devastated buildings and vehicles in the area, which is also near a bustling marketplace.
Television pictures showed dead bodies and body parts strewn across the street.
Another passing minibus was destroyed by the blast, which killed all 21 passengers inside. One body could be seen flattened under a concrete slab. Another was slumped over the charred bonnet of a car.
Police and residents loaded the dead and injured into ambulances and pick-up trucks.
"All of us are Iraqis, there are no Americans here," shouted one survivor, his shirt hanging in tatters from his shoulders.
Central Baghdad, meanwhile, descended into chaos after a rocket hit a busy street, killing two people and wounding four, including three children.
The killers here are the same people who, according to some members of the Western left , are fighting for Iraq.
No fewer than 437 runs were scored here yesterday, which is the kind of total which would only have been conceivable a couple of decades ago if David Gower had been bowling underarm to Vivian Richards. It's all a bit bewildering, not least for the supporter who first fell in love with the game listening to epic deeds of yesteryear on his grandfather's knee. "Eeh, lad. I'll never forget it. It were at Old Trafford in 1966. I fell asleep for 2.5 hours, and when I woke up, Barrington were still four not out."
Something good, at least: a friend, in Paris a few weeks ago, was handed a pamphlet in the street. Reading it as she walked on, she saw it was an advertisement for a march against anti-Semitism: Contre l'antisemitisme je marche!. She went back to the young woman who had given it to her, and said in French: "Thank you. I am Jewish." The woman answered: "I am Muslim."
France has the highest population of both Jews and Muslims in Europe. They have a shared interest in fighting racism, because both groups have suffered an increase of it... But while according to a European Union report most of the anti-Semitism in France - the burning of Jewish schools, defacing of graves and attacks on individuals - is coming from young Muslim immigrants, the anti-Muslim feeling is not coming from France's Jewish community, which is old and established and has better things to do than deface mosques.
In the Arab world hatred of Jews pours out of television, newspapers and mosques: Israel is to blame for every wrong that besets Arab countries; the Holocaust is either a lie or didn't go far enough; the ancient Christian "blood libel", that Jews kill children and use their blood to make Passover bread, is repeated in mainstream newspapers. It's common wisdom that Jews were behind the September 11 attacks, and that Jews persuaded the Americans to invade Iraq (this last is fairly widely accepted in some Western circles, too).
And in the West, suddenly a new anti-Semitism has become widespread, acceptable, even politically correct, it is argued in a new book of essays (Those Who Forget the Past, edited by Ron Rosenbaum). Anti-Israel violence erupts on American campuses, there are calls by academics in the US, Britain and Australia to boycott Israeli academics, in letters pages of respectable newspapers there are comparisons between Israelis and Nazis. See, the Jews do what was done to them.
There are many people who would never discriminate against individuals because they are Jewish, who nevertheless feel entitled to hate the Jewish state. Israel can be criticised, as any state can be. But when the world's only Jewish state - the collective Jew - is criticised disproportionately and unreasonably, Jews cannot be blamed for fearing the old hatred is back; or that it never really went away.
Readers with a good memory will recall that Like A Rolling Stone was the song that topped the normblog Bob Dylan poll back in April. My friend Drew Scott - he of the NSJF and the homework - has kindly alerted me to a half-hour programme from BBC Radio 4 devoted entirely to Like A Rolling Stone. Drew says that it's 'one for all Dylan fans', and he's right.
Go here and click on 'Listen', under the heading 'Soul Music'. There's a minute of other stuff before the programme begins. How long it'll be available is (I'm guessing) just a few days. Some opening snatches of opinion:
As a record it's a miracle, something that shouldn't have happened.
It has a largeness of movement. It rises and falls in a kind of oceanic way.
So bottomless, and so unstoppable.
The world looked different, it smelled different.
I don't think there's ever been a better single released.
Hearing that drum crack that starts the song and just being wiped out by it.
Bruce Springsteen said once that, like, that opening snare shot was like Bob Dylan kicking open the door to your mind.
On Wednesday, I received this email from a US reader:
Congratulations on the first anniversary of normblog! I can't tell you how much I appreciate reading your comments [and] your recommended articles... All have helped me believe that the views I hold are appreciated in this most difficult of times, especially when the views I hold run so contrary to those I most love, my own children, and those whose opinions I have always aligned myself with: friends, professional colleagues, and like-minded political acquaintances. I'm afraid that right now I'm a disappointment to my children who, although never before as political as I, find themselves concerned that their mom goes against the norm. How appropriate!
OK, people, this is the sequel to The truth 1. Well, it wasn't called The truth 1 back then, it was just called The truth.... But deep down, you know, where the essence of things resides, the innner core and profundity of them, the secret which reveals what is on the surface, explains this as both fully real and merely on the surface - deep down, I always knew it was merely 1, waiting for its 2.
The moment has arrived when its 2 - the 2 of the 1, that is - finally appears; finally appears, all of eight days later... (Get on with it, will you? - Ed.). And here it is. Danaaaaaa: