…at the Wall Street Journal. Enjoy – if you can get past the subscriber wall.
‘Tis true, what it says in Ecclesiastes. Fittingly then, I am going to re-post here a couple of articles I wrote a few years back, both related to current events: in honour of the World Cup, I give you my essay about attending a Serie A match in Italy in 2013 (though ’twas published in 2014); and not in honour but given that the Calgary Stampede has just started up, I give you this piece from three years back.
Dear readers, I am back from a wonderful trip to Ireland, about which I will be writing here (and in other places) anon. I wanted to start with a picture of myself taken on Whiddy Island, Ireland. I rarely post — and even more rarely appreciate — pictures of myself. But I truly like this photo, because I think it sums me up in a frame. I will write more about this photo later, and in particular this cat, but for now I would just like to thank my colleague Hermann Low for taking and sending it. Danke.
Such a huge loss – what a brilliant mind and what a fine writer. As someone who works with students who have similar disabilities as Krauthammer had, I know what admiration I feel for those kids when they recite essays and produce something thoughtful and well-sourced, sans whining or woe-is-me-ing. And this is what Krauthammer did for decades – he started long before many of the technological advances that help the kids with whom I work were on offer.
What strikes me about his death is how even those opposed to his political views admired his intellect. Yes, there are bigots on the left who can’t grasp that someone with whom they disagree can be brilliant, but I’m tuning all of them out here.
In tribute, I offer two of my favourite Krauthammer columns: the first is about the ethical treatment of animals. He wasn’t as far on board as I am, but his distinctions are thoughtful and fair; the second is the famous Bush Derangment Syndrome article, which gave a name to the madness of the left after 9-11. I am related to many sufferers of this illness (and also to sufferers of Harper Derangment Syndrome and Ford Derangment Syndrome and Israel Derangment Syndrome, also known as “anti-Semitism”) and often refer back to the column for some respite from the insanity.
Finally, here is a lovely tribute from John Podhoretz.
It seems to me there is enough to analyse and criticize and investigate and report about President Trump and his administration without resorting to truly absurd stretches, such as this one. Despacito is a gorgeous song, and it is successful now for that reason. To suggest some deep relevance based on current affairs strikes me as a desperate attempt to tie virtually everything to Trump. Why not ask about the success of Eres Tu (an even more beautiful song, in my view) and its connection to President Richard Nixon, or even La Bamba and the importance of the Eisenhower administration in bringing about its popularity?
Seriously, media? Pull it together…and listen to this lovely song from my childhood, while enjoying the lead singer’s cute gapped teeth and her geeky, hairy bandmates. Clip is from the 1973 Eurovision song contest (it came second and it was cheated!):
JFK would have been 100 tomorrow. Here’s a clip of him dealing with the press. At about the 55 second mark, May Craig — a great journalist and one of the few women at White House press conferences 50 and 60 years ago — asks him a question about equal rights for women. His reply is terribly charming and witty and were any president today to try it they’d get blasted by the angry mob. The whole clip is full of gems, so watch and remember — this man would NEVER be selected as presidential candidate for the Democratic Party today. You can also get a sense of why, as my father once told me, more people were weeping on the street when JFK died than on VJ-Day.
Here is some good — no, excellent, deserving-a-Pulitzer — journalism.
Here is some garbage journalism, from, of course, the CBC. This is an actual paragraph from an actual CBC report on the Iranian “election.” (I am too mortified to link to the story.)
Rouhani is a reformer who, in addition to signing the nuclear deal, has opened his country to the world and loosened restrictions on the country’s citizens.
There is a lot I could write about this day and what it means to me — and in coming posts I will — but right now I will leave you with a link to a column that was written only a few days after the attacks, a column that still holds up. Not surprisingly, it was written by Christopher Hitchens. How we miss him.
The link to the whole column is here — money quote below.
But the bombers of Manhattan represent fascism with an Islamic face, and there’s no point in any euphemism about it. What they abominate about “the West,” to put it in a phrase, is not what Western liberals don’t like and can’t defend about their own system, but what they do like about it and must defend: its emancipated women, its scientific inquiry, its separation of religion from the state. Loose talk about chickens coming home to roost is the moral equivalent of the hateful garbage emitted by Falwell and Robertson, and exhibits about the same intellectual content. Indiscriminate murder is not a judgment, even obliquely, on the victims or their way of life, or ours. Any decent and concerned reader of this magazine could have been on one of those planes, or in one of those buildings–yes, even in the Pentagon.
A number of people on social media — as well as in some newspaper columns — have called the U.S. election this year a “Hobson’s Choice.” It is not. A Hobson’s Choice is a take-it-or-leave-it scenario, not a situation where there are two unsavoury options. That would be “a dilemma.” I guess it could also be called a “Sophie’s Choice,” but I don’t like that expression for two reasons: 1) it brings up images of Nazis killing children, and 2) it makes me think of the book (and the movie) of the same name, both of which were tinged with anti-Semitism.
On a brighter note, here is a clip from the brilliant David Lean film, Hobson’s Choice, with Charles Laughton in the lead role. And yes, the title character is given a Hobson’s Choice at the end of the story.