I try to take a long walk each day, usually while listening to an audiobook – I learn and burn calories! I occasionally select books I have already read, especially if I remember enjoying them or taking in a lot of information from them. One such book is Niall Ferguson’s Civilization. Here’s a relevant to today’s news (and to other things) paragraph (and a bit):
For some reason, beginning in the late fifteenth century, the little states of Western Europe, with their bastardized linguistic borrowings from Latin (and a little Greek), their religion derived from the teachings of a Jew from Nazareth and their intellectual debts to Oriental mathematics, astronomy and technology, produced a civilization capable not only of conquering the great Oriental empires and subjugating Africa, the Americas and Australasia, but also of converting peoples all over the world to the Western way of life – a conversion achieved ultimately more by the word than by the sword.
There are those who dispute that, claiming that all civilizations are in some sense equal, and that the West cannot claim superiority over, say, the East of Eurasia. But such relativism is demonstrably absurd.
Little weaver bird…get weaving. I love this.
I don’t think we’re done with them. Readers, we have watched two extraordinary films in the past few weeks: 1917 and A Hidden Life. Both made me think of Adam Carolla’s riff on Germany, which I give to you here:
A lengthy New York Times article today about Wallace Stegner. I absolutely loved Angle of Repose and Crossing to Safety, and reading this piece has made me want to read more of his work. I must have a bit of my prairie forebears in me, after all. (I do like wide open spaces!)
Yeah, listen to him. A voice of sanity in this madness.
Adding to my comments in the post below, I will direct you to John Palmer’s post on the topic. It is worth your time. This last paragraph, in particular, resonates for me. I am reluctant to engage with anyone about this issue (or many others), as I hate the flame wars, but I have rarely unfriended due to differences of opinion.
I’m lucky. I have friends from all over the place, politically, geographically, religiously, racially, LGBTQ-wise, etc. I am confronted by conflicting arguments and flame wars all the time. They upset me and disturb me, but I rarely unfriend or block anyone involved in these events. And yet, they tear me apart inside.
Will keep my comments about the current anger, fear and loathing limited, but I will say the following: I am annoyed as heck at all the posturing and virtue-signalling. If I see one more person on social media put up that putrid meme that starts “In this House” and goes on to list all the wonderful things that go on in that house I will be ill. Truly ill. Especially since the last thing that is listed is something about “kindness.” It has been my painful, personal experience in life that those who talk about their own kindness are almost always deficient in it. Also tired of people talking about how they are going to “check their privilege.” Oh, shut up, already. Your self-importance does not help. I am immensely bothered by the misrepresentation/misuse of a Martin Luther King quote. You know the one. It’s about riots being the language of the unheard. Yeah, he wasn’t endorsing rioting. And how sad is it that this needs to be said? Terribly sad. And finally, just a really good column.
It is very hot in Toronto. A week ago today I was still having to turn on the little heater in my office – now I am using a fan and contemplating taking my show and moving it downstairs, where ’tis a bit cooler. To the matter at hand – some links from past and present, far and wide, not all pandemic-related. In fact, very few.
Sad news – the apostrophe protection society admits defeat. I hate poor grammar but one of my biggest pet peeves in that regard is people who don’t know where to place apostrophes or commas. We have failed as a society when people pluralize family names, for example, with an apostrophe.
A great piece from Lionel Shriver about the tiresomeness of lefty lingo.
Give this man an award – he (accidentally) hit a dog with his car, and drove it to safety. It turned out to be a coyote, no less deserving of compassion.
And give this man an award – Lebanese businessman bought Hitler artifacts and donated them to Israel.
Clive James and the greatness of Philip Larkin.
Another person deserving of an award – for saving Mongolia’s snow leopards.
A hero for the animals in Wuhan – yep, awards for him, too!
The first boy diagnosed as autistic – what a story.
The awakening of Norman Rockwell (seriously surprised that something this good was at Vox).
The British housewife who took on the Soviet Union – why had I not heard of her? And she deserved awards, as well!
Tragic history – again, why had I not heard of this? The “Reverse Freedom Rides.” Humans – so cruel.
Why plague doctors wore those strange beaked masks.
And – last link, as I want to end on a positive note – it is ok to drink wine by yourself! I already knew that, but it is now sanctioned by the New York Times.