Excusing Weiner, &c.


This is quite beautifully American — seriously: Sukanya Roy is “the fourth consecutive Indian-American to win the bee,” meaning, the National Spelling Bee. But Sukanya is more than an Indian American: She is a “Pa. girl,” as the headline says.

Better Sukanya Roy than Arundhati Roy (beautiful as she is). (Even when she has shaven her head, in protest.)

A friend of mine had on an unusual T-shirt the other night. It showed a Star of David and the words “Six Days, B*tch.” (I’ve thrown in the asterisk.) My friend said it was his personal acknowledgement of the Six-Day War on its 44th anniversary.

I then recalled a column written by George Will, many years ago. I will paraphrase it (because it goes a certain way in my memory, and I would not want to spoil it by looking it up). (Very journalistic, I know.)

For 20 years, Israel was admired as “the Athens of the Middle East”: a little outpost of Western civilization in the desert. A nation of scholars, poets, farmers, and spiritual types. Oh, how the world loved that Israel. But then, in June 1967, Sparta stood up.

That Israel, the world didn’t love so much. Now, Israel never asked to be Sparta. It would have greatly preferred to be Athens (or, hell, Jerusalem). But its neighbors forced it into Spartahood. So . . .

Perusing the website of the Daily Telegraph, I came across this, in a blog:

Where liberals were often scathing in their attacks on former mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s intemperate policing of Central Park and late-night bars and strip joints, they have raised barely a peep about Bloomberg’s policing of lifestyle.

Rudy, have I thanked you lately for that “intemperate policing” — the commonsensical and necessary policies that returned New York to civilization, rescuing it from barbarism? Thank you, thank you, infinitely.

(The blogpost to which I refer is here.)

Care for some news out of China? Me neither, but have some anyway: “A blogger from Chongqing has been sent to a labour camp for posting a political joke on the municipality’s ambitious Communist party chief on his microblog.” Oh, I bet.

Why did the blogger do that? If he lives, someone should ask him. Beijing is not in a lenient mood. It has “disappeared” one of the country’s best-known artists, Ai Weiwei — a man who recently had a big exhibition in London. It imprisons the current Nobel peace laureate.

What can it not do? It rules, it disappears, it tortures, it murders, with impunity. China’s strongmen will get nothing but kisses from the United States and the rest of the Free World.

Take a little more news: “Over two dozen Falun Gong practitioners have died due to abuse in custody since January 1, 2011.” Those are only the reported cases, mind you. And, oh, do they die in terrible ways, these practitioners. To be tortured to death — not exactly slipping off while snoozing in the hammock . . .

Never mind, back to kissing ChiCom butt.

Care for some music? (“Give me some music,” Cleopatra sings in the Barber opera.) (No, not The Barber of Seville — Samuel Barber’s Antony and Cleopatra.) In a recent piece — two of them, actually — I wrote about Sofia Gubaidulina, a contemporary Russian composer. A friend of mine, a distinguished music scholar, said, “In all seriousness, I think you could argue that Gubaidulina — whatever you think of her, even if it isn’t much — is the best female composer ever.”

Hmmm. Hildegard (of Bingen). Clara Schumann. Chaminade. Amy Beach (formerly known as “Mrs. H. H. A. Beach,” which I loved). The list ain’t long. (It gets longer in the last 30 years or so — Joan Tower, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, etc.)

Yeah, you could make a case.

A while back, I was talking about middle initials, in some column or blogpost, or both. I think I mentioned that the “S.” in “Harry S. Truman” doesn’t stand for anything. Let me quote from the all-knowing Wikipedia (which, in its Truman entry, draws on the McCullough biography and other sources):

His parents chose “S” as his “middle name” in an attempt to please both of Harry’s grandfathers, Anderson Shipp Truman and Solomon Young. The initial did not actually stand for anything, a common practice among the Scots-Irish.

Okay, I just loved this e-mail, from a reader: “My folks argued over Mitchell vs. Montgomery. Consequently, the short-tempered nurse gave me my middle name: M.”

Around this same period, we were doing some early American names — some Pilgrim names, some Puritan names. One of them was “Experience Bliss.” A reader now writes, “My family too has old New England roots, but we did not experience bliss. We had Thankful Clapp. She married Rev. Ebenezer Stearns.”

Thankful Clapp — remarkable.

Finally, see what you think of this: “I work occasionally with a wardrobe lady named Winsome McCoy.”

Beautiful. Catch you soon.



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