A regular spot to share some ideas about what’s good and what’s not on the interwebthingy. But, you know, it’s your life, so feel free to agree, disagree or ignore what follows.
What caught my attention last week
Paying The Price Of Privilege
Andrew Stuttaford reviews Public Schools and The Great War by Anthony Seldon and David Walsh, taking the opportunity to have a crack at the “brilliantly deceptive leftist agitprop intended to influence modern political debate [that] has come to be confused with history.”
The short story is that the rapidly expanding British army turned to the young men of the public schools such as Harrow and Eton to be the junior officers. There was a logic to that, as well as a presumption, although not one in the self-interest of the young men themselves: it is said that the average life expectancy of a subaltern on the Western Front was six weeks. It was their job to lead their men over the top.
Both legs blown off by a shell and balancing himself on his stumps, [Townend] told his rescuer to tend to the men first and said that he would be all right, though he might have to give up rugby next year. He then died.
The Subtlety of Aussie Sub-Editors
The subbies at the Courier Mail didn’t hold back on the story of a bloke in a 4WD who tried to drive across a railway track in the outback. Somewhat predictably, the car got stuck across the tracks, and was collected by a manganese train doing 80km/h.
Luckily the car driver had got out of his stuck truck before the train arrived, but not so happy for the poor train driver who thought there was somebody inside this mess.
One upside: it makes LittleDavyOne’s attempts at parallel parking look pretty damn good.
Reacting to the Reports from Rome
Andrew Sullivan, bless, was doing cartwheels following the release of a draft document at the Extraordinary Synod of the Bishops on the Family in Rome.
What we are seeing here is similar to what we saw at the Second Vatican Council. Just as that Council for the first time recognized that other faiths can have insight into the divine, so this Synod is also recognizing the goods and positive aspects in families and relationships outside the pristine model.
In later posts, Sullivan rips into the traditionalist voices opposing the document.
Is this a momentous moment for the Catholic Church? Chou En-lai’s apocryphal answer applies:
During Richard Nixon’s visit to Beijing in 1972, the Chinese premier, Zhou Enlai, was asked about the impact of the French Revolution. Speaking of an event that took place nearly two centuries previously, Zhou famously commented that it was “too early to say”.
Having The Final Word
The Paris Review has an interview with Margalit Fox, an obituary writer for the New York Times.
Does the work you do change the way you think about death?
This work does skew your worldview a bit. We all watch old movies with an eye toward who’s getting on in age. I watch the Oscars memorial presentation and sit there going, Did him, did her, didn’t do that one. For obit writers, the whole world is necessarily divided into the dead and the pre-dead. That’s all there is.
What I’m Trying To Ignore Next Week
Hay fever – I don’t know whether it is me or the super-pollen, but even Flixonase is not working this year. Worse than the man-flu. If only someone cared.