Some things that have grabbed my attention today:
- Russia strikes Odesa for a second day after withdrawing from the grain deal — Putin is aiming to starve not only the Ukrainian people, but the other people who depend on the grain that Ukraine exports. The effect of these latest actions — which include threatening to attack merchant ships coming to get said grain — has of course been to send wheat prices up sharply. Just in case you’re struggling to figure out who the good guys and bad guys are here.
- ‘Active club’ hate groups are growing in the U.S. — and making themselves seen — Our society continues to slide downward. There is just so much aggressive stupidity out there, and now at the paramilitary stage. And thanks to the Internet, these people are able to get together and reinforce their deviance, making themselves feel “normal.”
- Army base once named for Lee now named for two black South Carolinians — Which is fine, but I wonder — why South Carolinians, when Fort Lee was in Virginia? These were certainly not the only two non-Confederate soldiers to have distinguished themselves in the Army. Irrelevant digression: It’s too bad there are no Air Force bases named for Confederates (are there?). I’d be advocating to rename one for Gen. Benjamin O. Davis Jr., probably best known for commanding the Tuskegee Airmen. I want to add that “I knew him,” but that would be an exaggeration. My Dad worked for him as part of Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base, and I used to walk by his house on the way to catch the bus to school. Also, when I worked at the base golf course, I was once assigned to clean his golf clubs. I guess it’s silly, but I’ve always been kind of proud of having that thin connection to him…
- Is It Ever Morally Acceptable to Visit a Confederate Historical Site? — Since we’re on kind of a theme here today. I was grabbed by this question in the headline of an email from the NYT’s “Ethicist” today. The simple answer is that of course it is morally acceptable — and even imperative, given the widespread, appalling ignorance about the past in our society — to visit any and all historical sites, to understand history better, or even a little bit. But that question doesn’t fully explain the dilemma posed in the reader’s question. This particular site is operated by the Sons of Confederate Veterans, and they charge admission. So no, I wouldn’t go to there. Want to learn about the Confederacy — and the Union, and everything else have to do with that conflict? Go to Gettysburg. I highly recommend it.
- What we know about Travis King, the U.S. soldier who crossed into North Korea — Well, we know he’s not a candidate for promotion. In fact, he seems to be going out of his way to be creative in demonstrating his unsuitability. Apparently, seeing as how we know he had just gotten out of the stockade for having “punched a South Korean national.” But I was drawn to this because of the “what we know about” language in the headline. That made this hed a close relative of the “what you need to know” headline that is all about getting you to click. Headlines used to TELL you something, rather than urging you to click in order to learn something. (An old school hed would have said, “U.S. soldier who crossed into North Korea, was imprisoned for violent behavior,” or something along those lines.) Anyway, in this case as in so many, “what we know” is not much. Of course, you click wanting to know WHY he did it. How can we ever fully know what’s going on in such a person’s head?
I guess that’s enough, except that I’m thinking about adding this next thing as a regular feature, I’ve been having so many of these lately.
Today’s Earworm — A slight departure from my usual recent obsessing about the Zombies and the Moody Blues, today I woke up trying to remember the tune to Heart of Oak, the anthem of the Royal Navy. The words were in my head from having read a reference to it before going to bed. So I went to YouTube, went “yeah, that’s it!” You’ve probably heard the tune many times, generally as background music in historical movies. Anyway, it’s been stuck since then. England expects that every man will now go listen to some sea shanties.