Stories to Distract

Overwhelmed by the news? Consumed with horror that someone you had previously thought to be sane is shrieking anti-Israel/antisemitic nonsense in the public square or pulling down posters of kidnapped children and stomping their feet till they get a ceasefire so that their friends at Hamas can commit October 7th over and over again (their stated desire)? I have a couple of lovely reads for you: 1) The Last Lighthouse Keeper in America, and 2) Baby Puffins in Iceland – cutely called pufflings – meet their saviours.

Life’s Sad Moments

So we lost a family member about two weeks ago – the husband of my cousin. He was just short of his 49th birthday and left a loving wife and daughter. They are heartbroken. This tragic turn got me going through my little “quote book” – as its name suggests, a book where I write down quotes and lines of poetry that I like. I found a couple I wanted to share, both having to do with the randomness of luck and life, and always the joy and wonder of it.

From John Steinbeck:

But I do feel strange – almost unearthly. I’ll never get used to being alive. It’s a mystery. Always startled to find I’ve survived.

From Jhumpa Lahiri:

Still, there are times I am bewildered by each mile I have traveled, each meal I have eaten, each person I have known, each room in which I have slept. As ordinary as it all appears, there are times when it is beyond my imagination.

Lord Guglielmo Verdirame

This is terrific – a speech on the legality of Israel’s fight against Hamas, with some wise words about proportionality. From the House of Lords, October 24th, 2023. Lord Guglielmo Verdirame does not seem to need the notes he is holding and appears to be wonderfully nerdy and brilliant.


The horrors are ongoing in Israel and Gaza, as they are in Ukraine. Shortly before the pogrom of October 7th, I put aside this link. Please click and read the whole thing. But here is an important paragraph, especially for those of us who are conservative (or conservative-ish) and fear that support for Ukraine is diminishing.

As Executive Director Carrie Filipetti, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Trump administration, said, the letter was necessary because “the false narrative that conservatives do not want to provide aid to Ukraine is a dangerous misrepresentation that could lead to Putin’s belief that in the case of a conservative win in 2024, he will receive a green light for continued assault.”  

Signed by key Trump administration officials such as the former U.S. Ambassador to Russia and Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan, former Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie, former Deputy National Security Advisor Matthew Pottinger, former Senators Roy Blunt and Jon Kyl, former Congressman and Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee Mac Thornberry, multiple former Assistant Secretaries, National Security Council officials, U.S. generals, and ambassadors, the letter explains how “without a single U.S. servicemember in harm’s way, America’s material support to Ukraine is degrading the war machine of Russia, one of the United States’ principal adversaries – an aggressive power working hand in hand with China to reduce America’s prosperity and overturn America’s victory in the Cold War.” 

Ritchie Torres

We need a Ritchie Torres in Canada. He is a Democratic congressman who is decidedly not silly and is a shining star on the issue of Israel and antisemitism. Part of his recent op-ed (yesterday):

Something is rotten in the state of America. When the institutional leaders in our country cannot condemn the cold-blooded murder of Israeli children and civilians with moral clarity, one must ask: what kind of society are we becoming?  

What does the silence and indifference and cowardice — from these so-called leaders — tell us about the depth of anti-Semitism in America and the reckoning required? 

The time has come to confront not only the symptoms but the disease: a Democratic Socialist industrial complex that indoctrinates young Americans with an anti-Israel hatred so virulent that it renders them indifferent to the deadliest massacre of Jews since the Holocaust.  

Anti-Israel extremism, which has been given a veneer of mainstream respectability in law schools and legislatures, is aided and abetted by the sheer spinelessness of so-called “leaders”— from public officials to the presidents of colleges and universities.

Days of silence were often followed by words of cowardice, if there were any words at all. 

Northwestern University, for example, said it had no plans to “put out a statement officially stating a University position.” Imagine that: a university that cannot be bothered to take a position on a pogrom against Jews.  Have we learned nothing from the long and ugly history of Anti-Semitism? 

There is nothing accidental about the disregard for Israeli life that revealed itself in the wake of Oct. 7.  The dehumanization of Israeli victims follows inevitably from the hyperbolic and systematic demonization of Israel itself. 

And the same rot exists in Canada. Read the whole column.

Thanksgiving and Elephants

It is Thanksgiving here in Canada and I am thankful for much in my life – certainly living in this peaceful, if silly, little country must be on my gratitude list. Also, people who are kind to animals. Some cheer for the day and for this often sad world: