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A strange war, &c.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel arrives at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan, March 9, 2013.

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On the subject of Michigan — I was watching the Michigan-Indiana basketball game on Sunday. (We won’t talk about the result.) The game was in Ann Arbor, and I was appalled by the behavior of the Michigan kids. The students in the stands, I mean. They made this sound — kind of a sustained call — whenever Indiana had the ball.

As unsportsmanlike conduct is allowed on the court, field, or what have you, unsportsmanlike conduct is allowed in the stands. Even encouraged! If I were feeling sour — and this is one of those days — I’d say it was all part of the general societal collapse.

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My friend Rahul sent me an e-mail: “The noise, the jumping up and down, and all that is now a big part of home-court advantage. All teams, including Michigan, have to overcome it when playing on the road. That’s one reason it’s so hard to win on the road in college basketball.”

Okay. Unfortunately it didn’t stop Indiana, on Sunday.

When I was growing up in Ann Arbor, our colors were maize and blue. Maize is a pale yellow. At some point, that was turned into bright, neon yellow — Easter-chick yellow. Gross. The maize was far better, particularly with that blue.

Let’s turn to the PGA Tour — to the tournament we used to call Doral and now call the Cadillac Championship or something like that. It was played last week, and, during the telecast, they had a Cadillac official on. He was bragging about how much the company was giving to charity.

I could only think, “I hope they’re not doing it with taxpayer money. We can make our own charitable choices, thanks very much. No need to have GM as the middle man.”

Is that sour? (My flavor of the day, sour.)

It’s hard to be sour in California. The week before last, I was in Fresno. Coastal California is glorious — unmatchable — but there’s more to the state than that. Fresno is one of the most depressed places in the entire country. Still, it’s in California — and California’s still got it, for all its troubles.

The big minority in Fresno used to be the Armenians — this is William Saroyan territory (My Name Is Aram). The descendants of those immigrants are still around, but the big minorities, I’m told, are the Mexicans, the Punjabis, and the Hmong.

I saw two or three Hmong men, farming a corner plot. Apparently, many Hmong do this: farm corner plots. Then they sell their products by the road: corn, strawberries, and so on. I saw a ramshackle but endearing Hmong church.

Our Victor Davis Hanson has his family farm outside Fresno. You should see him there: the ultimate scholar-farmer-hombre.

In Fresno itself, there is a Catholic school whose sign says, “Angels in Training.” There is also this, in big letters: “For God and Country.” You can say that? At a private school, I guess.

I like a bumper sticker I saw: “Motherhood is a proud profession.”

In the Fresno airport — charming, attractive, efficient place — I saw a group of Mormons, traveling. Missionaries, I believe. I’m sure that there are fat, slovenly Mormons. Frankly, I don’t believe I’ve ever seen any. I see instead the fit and sharp: Mitts and Mittesses.

Some fun with menus? I shouldn’t, but . . . At a Thai restaurant near National Review offices, the menu advertises “Tilapia Lard Prick.” Could be just me, but I think “lard” and “prick” are two words that are best left out of food descriptions.

A little language? A little more language, I should say? At a concert the other night, a composer took the stage to hold forth on his new piece. (They can’t help doing this. Once upon a time, music was allowed to speak for itself.) He said he wanted the audience to see he was a “playful, mischievious spirit.”

Note “mischievious,” as opposed to “mischievous.” That is an interesting, totally entrenched American error. I’ve heard the great and the good say it. (“Asterik,” too.) (We could go on.)

Finally, I want to thank the Young Americans for Freedom at Principia College in Elsah, Illinois. I was with them a few days ago. I don’t believe I have ever seen a prettier college campus than theirs. It’s on the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River. Never have I felt more at home than with those YAF Principians.

Catch you soon, dear readers (wherever you live, even if you’re not in college) — thanks.
 

To order Jay Nordlinger’s book Peace, They Say: A History of the Nobel Peace Prize, the Most Famous and Controversial Prize in the World, go here. To order his collection Here, There & Everywhere, go here.



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