Monthly Archives: October 2007

The Cinch Review

Q & A with Robert Spencer on Bob Dylan

Spencer on TVRobert Spencer’s bio at Jihad Watch states that he “has been studying Islamic theology, law, and history in depth since 1980.” Since September 11th, 2001, he has been one of a priceless few whose knowledge of and clear speaking to issues surrounding Islam, jihadism and terrorism has helped the rest of us catch up (although the catching up has been slow and is very much ongoing). In books like “The Truth About Muhammad,” and his current one, “Religion of Peace?,” Robert Spencer doesn’t indulge in his own wild theorizing but instead quotes and references established and influential Islamic sources, and deals in facts rather than wishes. Rabbi David G. Dalin says of “Religion of Peace?” that it “counters the moral equivalence arguments that excuse Islamic jihadists and attack Judeo-Christian civilization and the West.” I think it does do that, and in a succinct, fair and no-nonsense fashion. The jacket of this book says that Spencer “lives in a secure, undisclosed location,” and would that it were just a joke. He is one of a handful of notables who were named in a threatening al-Qaeda video message last September. For all this and more, I believe he deserves our admiration. And for his knowledge of and affection for the music of Bob Dylan, I think he will earn any fellow fan’s respect. The following Q&A was conducted via email. Continue reading Q & A with Robert Spencer on Bob Dylan

Smart Dog

Idiot Savant

Smart dog vs idiot Marilyn vos SavantThere is a lightweight magazine called Parade which is bundled with a lot of Sunday newspapers in the United States. Those familiar with it will also be familiar with the “Ask Marilyn” column, wherein Marilyn vos Savant (whom we are told is listed in the “Guinness Book of World Records Hall of Fame” under “highest IQ”) deigns to answer the questions of us less cerebrally-gifted types. Her photo, perched atop the column, portrays her as perpetually about 39 years old, smiling and surprisingly benign-looking considering the awful burden of genius which she must bear.

I feel oddly compelled to read the column whenever I see it, and yet it never fails to aggravate me. For example, today Marilyn is asked why microwaved food cools faster than food heated in a regular oven. She answers: Continue reading Idiot Savant

The Cinch Review

Q & A with Ben Stein on Bob Dylan

Ben on TVActor, writer, economist, etc: Ben Stein is difficult to label, as all good Bob Dylan fans should be. He had a famous turn as a teacher in the film “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” He hosted Comedy Central’s quiz show, “Win Ben Stein’s Money,” for five years. His most recent book is a collection of writings called “The Real Stars.” (His most recent column in the New York Times, which does not end without a Bob Dylan quote, is at this link.)

One of his latest projects is a film to be released to theaters in February 2008, called “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed” (official site here). The film will look at how “educators and scientists are being ridiculed, denied tenure and even fired — for the ‘crime’ of merely believing that there might be evidence of ‘design’ in nature, and that perhaps life is not just the result of accidental, random chance.”

Stein is a man of strong opinions and the courage to state them. When the Senator Larry Craig imbroglio was still breaking and everyone was just going “yuck!” and making jokes, Stein — in a commentary for CBS Sunday Morning — defended the man who had been abandoned by seemingly all of his alleged friends and allies and stated that “if a police officer can wreck a man’s career over this trifle, then we might as well not have a Constitution or a Bill of Rights.” Continue reading Q & A with Ben Stein on Bob Dylan