In Britain, it’s the comedians and anyone with a sharp wit who get admiration and applause. In France, it’s intellectuals and authors the likes of Bernard-Henri Levy who get the hot babes and an 18th-century palace in Marrakech. Here in America, we’re partial to childish movie stars who drive their sports cars into Southern California swimming pools. Failing that, we like childish rock stars who drive their sports cars into Southern California swimming pools.
In Russia, they like their chess masters and vodka, especially Aleksandra Kosteniuk. An 18-year-old beauty with looks ravishing enough to make the cover of Russian Vogue, it’s doubtful she drinks much in the way of vodka. But, boy oh boy, can she push pawns. A grandmaster at tender 14, she’s written a book titled, appropriately, How I Became Grandmaster at Age 14. Her favorite mode is “blitz chess,” played with timers and lasting 10 minutes. Russia used to train chess players like the East Germans trained Olympic athletes, and in some Russian school districts the game is even required class work. Check out the “chess goddess” at her website, www.kosteniuk.com.
• Let us once again remember the words of our esteemed commander in chief and president by a mere 537 Florida votes in a Supreme Court-tilted electoral college: “If you’re not with us, you’re against us!” So what’s up with all these peace protesters? What do they think this is, America?! None other than Slaughterhouse Five author Kurt Vonnegut is providing introductions to a book about anti-war posters. “I don’t want to belong to a country that attacks little countries,” he said recently in an interview with Indianapolis weekly NUVO. Just who the hell does he think he is? Doesn’t he know that Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and every last Republican is hell-bent on turning Baghdad into the next Dresden? Here in America, we’re of the belief that the best way to liberate people is by killing them. Damn those French pansies! Damn those indifferent Turks! And most especially, damn those American traitors, who ought to have their necks ripped off and their guts sucked out so those of us patriotic enough to care about free-flowing Mideast oil can piss all over their hollowed, pacifist corpses! We want our war and we want it fast, just like our fast food. Got that? Now where’s the nearest drive-thru salad bar? And so it goes.
• Bias has a name: Professors at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Chicago’s graduate school of business recently joined heads for a study to discover that, when it comes to sending out your resume, the name is better when it sounds white. African-American sounding names like Tyrone and Shanika got one-third fewer responses in the form of calls, e-mails and letters than did more mainstream white names such as John, Emily or Christina.
• When Texas cannibalism strikes, it’s gruesome. When an Italian poet puts it in verse, it’s lovely. A Fort Worth criminal court sentenced a Texas man to 30 years in prison for eating his dead mother’s heart out. When police interrupted his meal, 41-year-old Joey Cala chided officers for barging in on his sacrificial ritual. Grad lit students might fondly remember Dante’s 33rd Canto of the Inferno, in which Count Ugolino munches on his son’s skull after being locked in a tower with no sandwiches. “Hunger did what sorrow could not do,” as Dante put it. Now an Italian paleoanthropologist has determined that Count Ugolino was not a cannibal after all. The Inferno’s 33rd Canto, thankfully, will always be fresh.Ben Fultonbfulton@slweeky.com