The Blog

The Standard at Sea: Day 2

The journey continues on the Westerdam as we head out into open water and put it on cruise control.

7:51 AM, Feb 8, 2005 • By JONATHAN V. LAST
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Somewhere in the Caribbean

AS WE SAT IN PORT yesterday morning a Disney ship, the Wonder, pulled in next to us. When their captain sounded the ship's horn, it played the first seven notes of When You Wish Upon a Star. That made my day.

Not that there wasn't a lot of other fun. We pulled out of Nassau around noon and made for open water. We'll be at sea until Wednesday, which means that it was finally time to start the panel discussions, Q&A sessions, and all the rest. We got underway yesterday afternoon with a talk from William Kristol and Fred Barnes--although "talk" is probably too formal a word. It was basically a great storytelling session with a healthy dose of political forecasting and analysis thrown in. The STANDARD staff and cruisers all gathered in the Vista Lounge, which is a three story theater carved out of a space near the bow of ship. For some reason, we had a pretty good pitch going the entire afternoon, even though the swells themselves didn't seem too big. (One veteran cruiser told me that often it's the frequency, not the amplitude, of waves which causes all the bobbing up and down.)

Up on stage Vic Matus managed to manfully keep the proceedings going, even though he looked a little green. During intermission, Fred Barnes procured a set of the magnetic bracelets that are supposed to cure motion sickness. It's a good look for him.

Dinner last night was another great success; I worry that I'm getting spoiled with all of the interesting company. I met one STANDARD cruiser from Seattle who's an ad executive now, but was a police detective in his previous career. Another gentleman had recently retired--how cool is this?--from the CIA, where he had spent the last few decades "working on building gadgets." Think of Q from James Bond. Evidently, he was a young engineer working for NASA at Cape Canaveral many years ago when the Agency came to him interested in his knowledge of rocketry. I'd give more details about his amazing story, but that would be telling. (Also, I want to be careful--just in case he has friends in wet works.)

The other bit I'm enjoying is the Times Digest we get in our staterooms. It's an eight page summary from the New York Times. Some sample headlines from yesterday:

"Some Veterans to Pay More for Drugs Under Bush Plan"

"U.S. Takes Steps to Mend Ties with Indonesia"

"Trim the Deficit? Only If Bush Uses Magic"

"Guantanamo Tales"

This last one is from the Digest's lone op-ed column. It's by Bob Herbert. You can probably guess where it goes. Some things remain the same even on the high seas.

Anyway, don't forget that next year's WEEKLY STANDARD cruise is taking already taking shape. If you want to assure yourself a space, send us an email at As soon as we have details, we'll let you know so that you can get a jump on signing up.

--Jonathan V. Last