Television is providing, as usual during momentous events, all noise and no signal, plus random images which may or may not be intelligible.
Today, while I was not watching TV, I finished John O’Sullivan‘s book about Reagan, Thatcher and Pope John Paul II. It is a very good book, about an important period in our history. Reagan and Thatcher and John Paul II were heroic figures, and they are under relentless attack by the people who hold the commanding heights of the media, the academy and the entertainment industry. The relentless tide of their lies eventually effaces, and replaces the truth, though we do have other options these days and things may be getting better. (O’Sullivan figures prominently in Richard Brookhiser’s book about William F. Buckley, which I devoured last weekend, also very good.)
It was a better use of my time than watching blather about Egypt from people who don’t know any more than I do about it.
Blogs are a little better but not much. All kinds of conventional wisdom seems to bloom and wither and rebloom based on not much of anything. The only person I see who seems to have anything interesting to say is John Robb, e.g. this: this and this. But I don’t know if he is just guessing, either.
And just today, a book came in the mail, which I got for one cent + plus postage: To War with Whitaker: Wartime Diaries of the Countess of Ranfurly, 1939-45, which I read a rave review of somewhere. I opened the package, opened the book at random, and saw this diary entry for 3 November, 1940:
“My name,” he said, “is Wingate, Orde Wingate. I am going south in five days’ time. I shall raise a revolt in Abyssinia. First I shall go to Khartoum — the Emperor is there. Then I shall drop behind the lines and stay there till, with the aid of the Abyssinians and my small force, we can overthrow the Italians. Now I want you to come as my secretary — you can type, do shorthand, cope with signals?”
“Can you ride, and speak French?”
I nodded again.
“You might have to be dropped by parachute — you wouldn’t mind that?”
“Not if I am supplied with the right kind of underwear,” I laughed.
“Lady Ranfurly, I must have an English secretary. There are none to be found in the Middle East. Will you come and help me? Can you be ready by Tuesday? You will be back in six months.”
Who could turn down a job offer like that? I will soon find out what happens. This one is going to the top of the pile.
The only thing that compares to the benefits of not having a TV is deactivating a Facebook account. One month Facebook free. I liked it, I like my FB friends. But it was taking up way too much time.