Today, my column is about a gathering of democracy leaders and human-rights activists: the Oslo Freedom Forum, held in Miami this year. The people you meet are almost too extraordinary for words. The things they do, the sacrifices they make, the spirit they evince . . .
Let’s have some mail, here in the Corner. In yesterday’s Impromptus, I wrote,
I like William Shatner, a lot. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an episode of Star Trek — I am not a sci-fi guy, although I’ve always intended to read the celebrated novels of Robert A. Heinlein, Philip K. Dick, Isaac Asimov, and others. But I met Shatner once, in a green room, before a panel show we were both on.
A reader writes,
Jay Nordlinger has not read any (or much) science fiction? Well, I’m certain you’re receiving many recommendations, but let me just say that Heinlein was one of two individuals most responsible for my being a conservative. The other one? George Will, of course! Both taught me that you can be pro-science and pro-reason and still land on the violet end of the political spectrum.
Oh, and my book recommendation to you: the Hyperion Cantos series by Dan Simmons. It’s The Canterbury Tales redone as science fiction, and beautifully written to boot.
Speaking of books: Yesterday, I had a post on capitalism and its moral basis. I, and readers, made a list of books that spell this out. A reader responds, “To add some balance to your list on morals and markets: The Grapes of Wrath and Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”
Two quick comments — taking the second book first: It need hardly be said that a slave economy is not a free economy. You could call it the antithesis of one. I think of one of the great slogans in American history: “Free Soil, Free Speech, Free Labor, and Free Men.”
As for the Grapes of Wrath business: Soviet authorities decided to show John Ford’s movie in 1940. They wanted audiences to see how poor the United States was. But this decision backfired on the authorities: because the people who saw the movie were astounded that the Joads, poor as they were, had a car.
I make a note in my column today: Andrei Sannikov, the Belarusian statesman and former political prisoner, told me that the Soviets always censored images of supermarkets in Western movies.
End on some football? (With some singing?) Yesterday, I wrote,
Earlier this season, Justin Tucker kicked my NFL team, the Detroit Lions, in the gut. He did it by kicking a game-winning field goal as time ran out. Tucker plays for the Baltimore Ravens. His kick was a 66-yarder — the longest field goal ever kicked in the NFL.
My friend Cristina informs me that the guy is also a singer. Want to hear him sing “Ave Maria”? Okey-doke: here.
Mitch Adams, an attorney in Tyler, Texas, writes,
I always get excited when you mention someone in your Impromptus of whom I know something independently of what you have to relate about him.
Justin Tucker and I are both alumni of the University of Texas. He was a music major, which is a little unusual for football players in a program like our alma mater’s.
Anyway, he’ll always be one of my favorite Longhorns for doing to A&M in ’11 what he did to your Lions this year. And that game against the Aggies was the last time we played them before they left for another athletic conference. It’s a great video clip to watch on YouTube. Gotta love a dogpile.