"Restore(s) a little sanity into current political debate" - Kenneth Minogue, TLS "Projects a more expansive and optimistic future for Americans than (the analysis of) Huntington" - James R. Kurth, National Interest "One of (the) most important books I have read in recent years" - Lexington Green
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Peggy Noonan had a very nice column about the Reagan funeral. I especially like the passages about Margaret Thatcher.
Walking into a room in the Capitol Wednesday before dusk: A handful of people were standing together and gazing out a huge old white-silled window as the Reagan cortege approached down Pennsylvania Avenue. The sun was strong, like a presence. It bathed the women in glow. One was standing straight, with discipline. Her beige bouffant was brilliant in the sun. I approached, and she turned. It was Margaret Thatcher. It was like walking into a room at FDR’s funeral and seeing Churchill.
The cortege was coming toward the steps. We looked out the window: a perfect tableaux of ceremonial excellence from every branch of the armed forces. Mrs. Thatcher watched. She turned and said to me, “This is the thing, you see, you must stay militarily strong, with an undeniable strength. The importance of this cannot be exaggerated.”
To my son, whose 17th birthday was the next day, she said, “And what do you study?” He tells her he loves history and literature. “Mathematics,” she says. He nods, wondering, I think, if she had heard him correctly. She had. She was giving him advice. “In the world of the future it will be mathematics that we need–the hard, specific knowledge of mathematical formulae, you see.” My son nodded: “Yes, ma’am.” Later I squeezed his arm. “Take notes,” I said. This is history.
Ms. Noonan concluded on this note.
Many great things were said about Reagan, especially the words of Baroness Thatcher, the Iron Lady. What a gallant woman to come from England, frail after a series of strokes, to show her personal respect and love, and to go to California to show it again, standing there with her perfect bearing, in her high heels, for 20 hours straight. I wonder if the British know how we took it, we Americans, that she did that, and that Prince Charles came, and Tony Blair. One is tempted to fall back on cliche–”the special relationship.” But I think a lot of us were thinking: We are one people.
Margaret Thatcher is loved by American Conservatives more than anyone in Britain will ever understand. She is bigger than life, a warrior goddess from the olden times. She and Reagan slew the communist dragon. Sic semper tyrannis.
Dave Brubeck, whose music’s wit so delighted my parent’s generation – died at 91. He reminds us of another era, when smoking meant subtle lights in a dimmed room and when pauses spoke as couples in quiet clubs paid thoughtful respect to a music that moved and innovated and then returned to its roots before launching out, reaching out, again.
The obituaries seem fewer – he played long into a different culture. But Brubeck and Theolonious Monk and Jerry Mulligan were the sound tracks of the Baby Boomers’ parents and remind us of a vision that took notes, creating again and again a new order, a new beauty. Improvisations are grounded on Youtube: the interaction between musicians and an engaged audience lost, they remain to explain that time and those people. As the sixties became the seventies, we thought the fifties plastic, conformist, simple. All those vinyls my father loved remind us it was more complicated than we knew – perhaps because they were, themselves, like the music -laconic, cerebral even. Elvis and the Beatles, rock and country – for decades they all lived side by side with Brubeck.
Born Dec. 6, 1920, Brubeck grew up on a ranch, planed to become a veternarian. He died Dec. 5, 1912 in Connecticut. His life appears full and generative: New York Times, NPR. YouTube from the Times.
The political and academic historical world of the British Isles seems to have been plunged into mourning at the death of Professor Eric Hobsbawm CH (Companion of Honour), author of many hefty tomes and a life-long Marxist and Communist. People who would rightly excoriate any Holocaust denier weep copious tears over a man who has spent decades denying the crimes of Communism, supporting the most horrible totalitarian system in history, skating over such matters as collectivization, the show trials and the forcible take-over of Eastern Europe after the war and writing history that is pure Marxism. Well, not me, if I may use such an ungrammatical expression. Here is my take on the man.
Today would have been Milton Friedman’s 100th birthday. None of us knew him personally but all of us, I think it is safe to assert, miss him, and the world is much the worse for his absence. עליו השלום – alav hashalom.
JOHN J. REILLY, JERSEY CITY, John J. Reilly of Jersey City, 58, passed away on May 30, 2012. Beloved son of Jean Reilly (nee Harkins) and the late John Reilly, dear brother of Donna Reilly (Dennis Goonan), Mary Spence (Jack Spence), Nancy Reilly Zollo (Louis Zollo) and Nora Reilly, and uncle to David, Jennifer, Elizabeth, Kathryn and Michael, he was also cherished by many compassionate friends, especially those with whom he worshiped at Holy Rosary Church. After graduating from St. Peter’s College and earning his law degree from Georgetown University, he embarked upon a career as a writer, editor and attorney. His keen intellect and wry sense of humor resulted in many publications and a world-wide network of correspondents. His intellectual preoccupations ranged from theology and in particular eschatology to politics, alternative history, and the philosophy of science and literature. He published four books includ-ing Apocalypse and Future, Notes on the Cultural History of the 21st Century. John regularly appeared in First Things, Kirkus Reviews, and had been an editor at Culture Wars before he withdrew in protest to a drift toward anti-Semitism which he publicly denounced. John also maintained a blog, The Long View, where John serenely surveyed the world and opined that, indeed, everything is going to be OK. John’s intellectual interests also expressed themselves in various societies in which he was active including The International Society for the Comparative Study of Civilizations, the Center for Millennial Studies, the Simplified Spelling Society, and American Literacy Council. A man of breathtakingly ecumenical feeling, he was without compromise a true and devout Catholic. It must have been his faith and his character formed by it and by his loving family that made him without a doubt the most optimistic expert on apocalyptic movements and dystopias. John explained himself thus: After long thought, I realized that the most important thing in life is to be helpful. So, I have taken to explaining things, carefully and empathetically, and often at very great length. ‘Spengler with a Smile’ is how I usually characterize the organizing principle. The loss of John’s self-effacing cheerful genius has left the world a darker place and, for those who were privileged to share his company, a son, brother and friend whose absence will always be felt. A wake will be held on Friday, June 1, from 4 – 8PM at McLaughlin’s Funeral Home, Jersey City. A requiem mass will be held at 10AM on Saturday, June 2, at Holy Rosary Church followed by interment at Holy Cross Cemetery in North Arlington. In lieu of flowers, John would have appreciated donations to Holy Rosary Church. McLaughlin Funeral Home 625 Pavonia Avenue Jersey City, NJ 07306 (201) 798-8700
Services for Captain Carroll LeFon…Neptunus Lex…were held Tuesday March 26 at Fort Rosencrans…I wasn’t there, but a large number of Lex’s blogfriends were present in addition to his family, colleagues, and real-life friends. The flyover was, appropriately, by a U.S. Navy F-18 and an ATAC Kfir.
There are now more than 1600 comments on this memorial thread, and another 200+ here…many of them quite eloquent, such as this one:
Many people have written tributes to Lex on their own blogs. Fuzzybear Lioness reposted a piece she wrote in 2008, on the occasion of Lex’s retirement from the Navy, in which she describes getting to know the Captain via blog and email and later meeting him in person. Well worth reading. Also, someone found a “Friday Musings” post from a few years back featuring Lex himself, on video.
My own selection of favorite Lex posts can be found here.
A new blog, The Lexicans, has been formed in order to continue the great community that grew up at Neptunus Lex. Hopefully all Lexicans and recent Lex-discoverers will check it out. And I understand that the U.S. Naval Institute plans to publish in book form “Rhythms,” Lex’s book-in-progress about life on an aircraft carrier, and possibly the blog itself as well.
It was a pleasure reading you and learning from you, Lex, and it was an honor to be listed as a “Wingman” on your blogroll.
Captain Carroll LeFon, USN (retired)…known to the blogosphere as Neptunus Lex….was killed yesterday. Lex was flying an Israeli-made Kfir fighter for a contractor that provides “adversary” services for training U.S. combat pilots. Details of the accident are not yet clear; however, it’s been reported that weather conditions included both fog and snow.
This is a terrible loss. Lex was a great writer and an incisive thinker, extraordinarily well-read in literature and history. He must have been a great officer; some of his leadership qualities can be seen in his discussion of various shipboard incidents and the gentle but firm way he managed the occasional out-of-control comments exchange on his blog. He was a true patriot, devoted to his family, he loved the Navy, and he loved aviation. He had a great sense of humor, and he was that rare thing, a truly morally serious person.
Herewith, a collection of some of my favorite Neptunus Lex posts…
Carroll LeFon, who blogged under the pseudonym Neptunus Lex, was killed in a plane crash.
David Foster first told me about Lex and I have read Lex’s blog on and off for years. He was one of the best bloggers and was obviously a first-class person in many ways, as well as being a highly talented writer. My sympathies to his family. Alav hashalom.
[O]ur culture is the most important front. And the three most important pillars of that culture are Hollywood and pop culture, along with education and the media. Those three are absolutely controlled by the left.
We must recapture or replace the “commanding heights” of the culture.
It is long overdue. The Right-O-Sphere is but a first step.
Otherwise, merely political gains will be built on sand.
Fear God and dread nought.
It can be done.
Family is what motivated Andrew. I know someone must have known him without Susie, but not I. It has always seemed to me like they have been together forever. He dedicated his most recent book to his kids, writing: “Too many people fought to create this country” for us “to squander it in a generation. . . . I cannot stand on the sidelines as you and your generation are being handed the tab.”
One of humanity’s oldest forms of national economy is the “palace economy.” Under this system, the king would have the harvest brought into a central granary for storage. In Genesis 41, Joseph interprets Pharoah’s dream as predicting seven good harvests and seven poor ones, and says: “Let Pharaoh do this, and let him appoint officers over the land, and take up the fifth part of the land of Egypt in the seven plenteous years. And let them gather all the food of those good years that come, and lay up corn under the hand of Pharaoh, and let them keep food in the cities. And that food shall be for store to the land against the seven years of famine, which shall be in the land of Egypt; that the land perish not through the famine.”
Egypt, Mesopotamia, Asia Minor, the Minoans, and the Mycenaean Greeks all had similar arrangements. It was a command economy, with subsistence farming as a base and the excess over bare necessity taken into the care of the government. Many examples of early writing are simply accounting records for the acquisition, storage, and disbursement of grain, wine, and olive oil. In theory, the stored food would be redistributed to the poor and, in times of shortage, to the people in general. In practice, it put the weapon of hunger into the ruler’s hands.
Politically, the ruler was the representative and near relation of the gods, and was invested with divine attributes. That may or may not have included shooting 18 holes-in-one in a single round of golf.
Is any of this starting to sound familiar?
Good riddance to the god-king of North Korea. I hope his fellow god-king Stalin has saved him a seat by the fire.
To me the Cold War is very real, perhaps because my family was involved in various ways and, towards the end, I was, too. The news of the great men and women of that fight dying comes with very special sadness and also with many conflicting thoughts. Vaclav Havel, for instance, was a great symbol of that struggle against Communism but as a politician he did not live up to that and so one see-saws between various opinions.
I have tried to sum it all up on Your Freedom and Ours (though the posting starts with the death of Kim Jong-il). I may get beaten up (figuratively speaking).
As soon as man began considering himself the source of the highest meaning in the world and the measure of everything, the world began to lose its human dimension, and man began to lose control of it. Havel
At 75, having lived a remarkably full and generous life, Vaclav Havel has died. (Other comments today.)
Instapundit links to Welch’s 2003 profile which ironically begins by discussing Havel’s sense of the moral rot of dishonesty within communism by referring to Orwell and Hitchens.
The richness of his vision comes through in one of the more superficial but certainly evocative sites, where this man of action demonstrates the power of the epigrammatic as well. But, while writing well, he also acted well: words of commitment amd acts of commitment.
The Cold War didn’t have to end the way it did. The Communists could have won. Or it could have ended with a lot of big explosions. Instead it ended when a lot of people who had lived under Communist lies, oppression, stupidity, waste, pollution, hypocrisy, squalor and corruption stood up, risked getting their heads kicked in by the cops, and pushed the whole stinking pile of junk onto the ash heap of history.
A Velvet Revolution, where as few people get killed as possible, is a great achievement.
Havel is one of the guys who made that happen.
1989 and the Fall of Communism in Eastern Europe already seems like something from ancient history to many people.
To me it seems like last week.
An entire disgraceful and brutal episode in our past is being sanitized and tossed down the memory hole.
Please do not forget the Soviet Union, do not forget the Cold War, do not forget Communism, do not forget the people who suffered under it, do not forget the people who opposed it, do not forget the people who wanted to give in to it, and who lied about it, do not forget the people who brought it all to an end.
[BTW, I cannot find the link to the extremely funny and insightful essay Havel wrote about how being President of Czechoslovakia, with someone always doing his laundry and cooking and driving him places, was making him infantile and out of touch. Anyone who has that, please put the link in the comments and I will update this post.]
That Jobs stole ideas, cheated his business partners and lied habitually seems to be generally accepted and documented in the new Isaacson biography. These are bad things not only morally but also for business. In my book this doesn’t make a Jobs “complex”; it makes him a scoundrel, a person not be admired. Yes, I know, iPods are cool.
Read the whole thing, and read the Forbes column that Smith and Glenn Reynolds link to.
Jobs accomplished great things, but his accomplishments are separate from his personal behavior, which by all accounts was bad.
Many of us have worked for jerks at one time or another. Jerks may be brilliant but they are still jerks. When I worked for a jerk I remember thinking: This must be like how it feels to be in an abusive marriage. True, nobody beat me, I got to go home every afternoon, I was paid for my time and eventually I moved on. But it was a miserable period in my life, and it was unnecessary, an artifact of some jerk’s peculiar brain chemistry or bad upbringing or who knows what. Were the people Jobs abused in his career eggs that had to be broken to make the magnificent Apple omelet? I doubt it. He was just a jerk. He might have treated people better and gotten the same or better results. Even if the results had been a bit less insanely great, was the return on his bad behavior worth the pain it caused other people? I don’t think so.
I just learned that Ed Thompson finally lost his long battle with cancer. Ed is Tommy Thompson’s brother.
Ed was one of those characters that you only meet every once in a while. I remember the campaign for governor here in Wisconsin in 2002. It was my first serious foray into politics. I attended meetings that Ed had and eventually decided he was the guy for me. I donated to his campaign and worked on it as well. Ed was a Libertarian through and through. It was amazing to talk to the guy.
He got an astounding 11% of the vote in that election. We were all very proud of what we had done. At the meetings there was every political stripe represented. There were people who just wanted more lax drug laws. There were businessmen. Women. All colors. Everyone believed in Ed and knew we were all tired of the same ‘ol two party system.
Thank you Ed. You taught me more than you will ever know. RIP.
My spouse works for Apple in the finance department and today took over 30 calls from finance contacts, e.g., accounts payable, comptrollers and the like, who called to express their condolences to the company on the passing of Steve Jobs. Note that these weren’t people who expressed condolences in passing during a routine business call, these were people who called specifically to express their condolences.
My spouse mused, “If Bill Gates died do you think people would call Microsoft just to say how sad they were?”
I gonna go with, no, no they wouldn’t.
It’s strange to see a billionaire entrepreneurial executive lionized and mourned like a heroic soldier or a great artist. Most business people, regardless of the good they do or how much they change the world for the better are hated and resented by the greater public. People seldom believe they’ve earned their wealth or deserve respect for their work. Jobs was different.
There are, fundamentally, two subspecies of entrepreneur. One starts from the present, and visualizes the next logical step from where things are now. This type figures out how to make something better, cheaper, or more widely available, and manages to clear the financial, regulatory, and market barriers to getting it into the marketplace. The other visualizes a different world, one in which things are different and better from the way they are now, and then figures out what path of evolution brings us to that world, and, as the last step, what is the least ambitious step possible that will move things toward that goal.
Steve Jobs was one of the latter group, and one of the most successful of his time.
[ Steve Jobs obit -- cross-posted from Zenpundit ]
. Steve Jobs, February 24, 1955 – October 5, 2011
Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.