When Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Beijing in May 2012 for a top-level conference with Chinese officials on strategic and economic issues, she got much more than she bargained for. A handicapped Chinese human rights activist, Chen Guangcheng, had managed to obtain provisional asylum in the American embassy. Chen, who has been blind since infancy, was well-known to diplomats, journalists, and observers of human rights in China.
From my living-room windows, I can see two of the three coffee shops within a block of our apartment. Within less than a mile, there are five other coffee shops. In America the coffee shop has for the most part replaced the neighborhood bar, the country club, it used to be said, of the working man. Bars have never been my idea of a good time. Hemingway was, I think, correct when he said that there were only two reasons to go into a bar: the search for complaisant women and the yearning for a fight.
There are two rival bills in Congress addressing campus sexual assault. A nominally bipartisan bill spearheaded by Democrats Claire McCaskill and Mark Warner focuses on heaping more requirements on schools to turn their disciplinary systems into witch-hunts.
My recent visit to the National Geographic Museum’s exhibit, Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology, revealed what the modern museum must do to keep the turnstiles turning. And the exhibits, I learned, they are a’changin’.
Robert Conquest, a friend of this magazine, passed away Monday. The Telegraph's obituary is worth a read:
Robert Conquest, the writer on Soviet Russia who has died aged 98, was a polemicist and a serious, published poet; but above all he was an historian, one of the outstanding scholars of his time, whose books did as much as any other man’s to alter our view of the communist experience.
Based on her latest column, Maureen Dowd is not a fan of Hillary Clinton's campaign run. But how do the Times's readers feel? It's a guilty pleasure of mine (or a bad habit) to read comment sections in order to gauge the mood out there. At the New York Times, however, comments are broken into three sections—All, Readers' Picks, and NYT Picks. The All section is a rabbit hole. A subthread can go on for hundreds of comments, none of them addressing the column but rather a reader who mentioned Hubert Humphrey and Vietnam. So I skipped ahead to the ultrafiltered NYT Picks—letters, if you will, selected by the Times as noteworthy. Here's where it got interesting.
Libertarians in Colorado are flying high after their success in getting marijuana legalized in the state. In our little town of Aspen, there are now seven stores in which eager consumers – I perhaps should say addicts because one user recently held up a store, threatening staff with a hammer, because he absolutely positively had to have the $11,000 worth of weed – can satisfy their desire for the stuff. Score one for libertarians.
One of the more frustrating things about the three years I lived in a “mixed” neighborhood in Northeast Washington, D.C., was the bus I was forced to rely on to get to work. The infamous X2, which promenades down H Street, not far from the U.S.
Some years ago, while visiting T. S. Eliot’s native St. Louis, I took in a lecture on Eliot’s poem “Marina,” delivered by the Scottish poet and critic Robert Crawford. Most people will grant that T. S. Eliot (1888-1965) is a difficult poet, but after 20 years of reading him, I find that “Marina” is the only one of his poems I continue to find obscure, even opaque. Crawford interpreted the poem astutely, but what most impressed me was his willingness to set aside certainty of sense in favor of an exceptional richness of sound:
A reader writes to ask about the photo we’ve been using in our subscription ads (see the back cover of this week’s edition, or last week’s, for that matter). Is it real, he wonders, or Photoshopped to show the three men together? “If it is an actual photo, it certainly is very interesting: three young men with impressive careers before them. All three were warmly dressed and their shoulders appear to touch one another. All three were staring directly toward the camera. . . . Stalin is almost smiling, the other two not quite so much.”
Leonard L. Richards, professor emeritus of history at the University of Massachusetts (Amherst), has given us a compelling and multi-faceted account of how the antislavery movement achieved its definitive triumph in the form of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.