Washington copied out these 110 rules of civility as a schoolboy and while they are based — it would seem — on a 16th-century set of precepts, they are almost all (with some updating, naturally) applicable today. Don’t kill vermin, fleas or lice in front of people (I might even say “do not kill vermin”); do not express joy before a sick person (tacky!); be not tedious in discourse (yikes! Most of us should stop speaking then). And so on.
There is even one about eye-rolling (don’t do it), making one wonder if teenaged girls have always been as snarly and disrespectful. And what am I saying, “teenaged girls”? Heck, my parents used to roll their eyes at me, pretty much whenever I spoke.
This week marks the 71st anniversary of Israeli independence and so, predictably, Hamas has to try to ruin the party. What was also predictable, sadly, was the reaction of so many in the West. Melanie Phillips has written a long blog post about it. Choice quote:
The Jews are often referred to as “the canaries in the mine.” With Western civilization in existential free-fall, the symbiotically linked contagions of Israel-bashing and antisemitism are both the cause and effect of this crisis.
Subscribing to the Arabs’ murderous falsehoods about Israel has destroyed the West’s moral compass – leaving it open to the murderous falsehoods about the people who gave it that moral compass in the first place and further blinding it to the forces threatening its own continued survival.
Read the whole thing here.
Today is as good a day as any to remind you to visit my other website.
I sometimes think about going back to school for my Ph.D. But then I read things like this and wonder. There was a time when having a doctorate meant something positive about your intellect and your ability to think critically. I don’t think that is true anymore. I think it merely means something about being able to fit in with the unfortunate zeitgeist. Further, I think my Significant Other is correct when he says tenure should be abolished.
Charles van Doren died this week. For those of you to whom that name means nothing, he was at the centre of the quiz show scandals of the 1950s. Robert Redford directed this excellent film about it all. Because it has no car chases or shooting and the actual scandal didn’t involve anything sexy, I can’t see it attracting any Millennials, but I highly recommend it – a nostalgic portrait of a time when we expected honesty from people. It is also about the van Dorens. My family was never quite so glamorous, but my parents — like van Doren’s mother and father — were extremely competitive and had huge expectations for their kids. I always felt a lot of pressure.
The film’s trailer:
How has this not been made into a movie yet? And if it has, please send me a note and let me know.
For this day, please read my post from last year.
…in the New York Times, of all places!
If you see only an “Israeli-Palestinian” conflict, then nothing that Israelis do makes sense. (That’s why Israel’s enemies prefer this framing.) …
The fault lines have little to do with Israel. They run between dictators and the people they’ve been oppressing for generations; between progressives and medievalists; between Sunni and Shiite; between majority populations and minorities. If our small sub-war were somehow resolved, or even if Israel vanished tonight, the Middle East would remain the same volatile place it is now.
Read the whole thing.
I’ve long been a fan of the Australian critic and writer Clive James and was extremely saddened to learn that he is ill. But here’s an uplifting conversation — of sorts — between James and Mary Beard (another writer and critic I admire).