- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 11, 2002

Small returns?
"I used to think that the notion of government funding for late-night basketball was silly, or at best symbolic. In fact it may be exactly the right approach, because pulling a few influential boys off the streets and out of trouble might halt a chain reaction among their impressionable peers.
"It now seems to me that programs like President Clinton's effort to hire 100,000 additional police officers and spread them in a uniform film across every jurisdiction are the gestural, brain-dead ones, because they ignore the world's lumpiness. Increasingly, cops themselves are coming to the same conclusion. More than a few cities have learned (or relearned) that pre-emptively concentrating their efforts on key areas and offenders can dramatically reduce crime across an entire city at comparatively little cost.
"The flip side of learning to find small interventions with large returns, and at least as important, is learning to avoid large interventions with small returns."
Jonathan Rauch, writing on "Seeing Around Corners," in the April issue of the Atlantic Monthly

Islam means what?
"When 19 Islamic fanatics killed thousands of Americans, to the cheers of the 'streets' of the Islamic world, the president of the United States repeated over and over what has now become at best a well-intentioned, but ultimately fatuous, cliche: 'Islam means peace.'
"When synagogues in France were set ablaze by Arab brown shirts, Prime Minister [Lionel] Jospin regretted that it would be 'extremely difficult' to protect French Jews wherever they gather in large numbers. And when French authorities captured three Moroccan-born fire bombers, the prosecutor explained that the 'confused' youths 'had been drinking quite a lot' and were simply 'acting based upon what they had seen in the news.'
"Poor kids, someone sing 'em a few bars of 'Officer Krupke' in French-accented Arabic and send them to bed without croissants and Turkish coffee.
"Meanwhile, Israel a staunch ally of the United States, and the only democracy in the region is besieged by suicide bombers who have been brainwashed by fanatical cults. These terrorist groups load up glassy-eyed teen-agers with explosives, nails, and bullets and convince them to seek out large clusters of women and children."
Jonah Goldberg, writing on "Moral Styrofoam," Monday in National Review Online at www.nationalreview.com

Sci-fi myth
"Another 'Star Wars' movie is about to hit the cineplexes. As with all cosmological phenomena, certain strange and even frightening things are likely to happen as the event horizon draws near.
"Hardcore fans will prepare for opening night by polishing their toy light sabers and getting their Darth Vader costumes taken out an inch or so. Fast-food joints and toy stores will fill up with merchandise bearing the faces of alien creatures.
"And some gullible middlebrow most likely Bill Moyers will once again recite the pseudo-religious doctrine that attributes the phenomenal success of the series to producer-director George Lucas' skill at tapping underground streams of ancient legends, using Joseph Campbell's work in comparative mythology as his dowsing rod.
"[T]he real roots of 'Star Wars' are obvious to anyone not blinded by snobbery or the need for self-inflation. They lie not in 'The Odyssey' or the 'Upanishads,' but 20th-century science-fiction magazines such as Astounding, Amazing Stories and Galaxy. The 'true theology' of 'Star Wars' was written not by Virgil or Homer, but Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, Frank Herbert, E.E. 'Doc' Smith and a host of other S.F. writers."
Steven Hart, writing on "Galactic Gasbag," Tuesday in Salon at www.salon.com

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