Monday, November 26, 2007

Three Principled Secretaries of State

Sunday School yesterday was on Chapter 9 of Jim Junke's "The Missing Peace". The chapter was on the period of 1898 through WWI. Jim started by asking what period of history we would want to live in, if we had a choice. His choice was this period, which he calls the "progressive era". Many progressive ideas were flourishing, Dewey in education, Jane Adams and her settlement house, and on and on. WWI killed all that, and afterwards it was again a time of repression of progressive ideas.

One thing the book points out is that William Jennings Bryan was a tireless worker for peace, and he resigned as Wilson's Secretary of State rather than be a part of an increasingly belligerent and militaristic administration. This brought to my mind two more recent similar instances: in 1979 Cyrus Vance resigned as Jimmy Carter's Secretary of State because of his disagreement with Carter's plan to use military force to try to rescue the hostages. Then more recently Colin Powell resigned as Bush's Secretary of State, presumably over his disagreement with the war in Iraq. It is said that Powell had a two-hour conversation with Bush, literally begging him not to go into Iraq, but Bush would not heed his advice. This seems to be a common pattern, in which Presidents will listen to their military advisers but not their diplomatic advisers. We need future Presidents who value the peacemaking process more than the warmaking process.


Today's film: "Three Strangers" (1946)

This film noir features three strangers who agree to split a winning lottery ticket. It has a decent 7.1 IMDB rating, though with only 285 voters, reflecting the fact that this film is unavailable on DVD or videotape.

I first heard about this film in a book on "Casablanca". "Casablanca" veterans Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre both appear in this film, with Geraldine Fitzgerald playing the female lead who brings the three of them together. Please help me lobby for this film to be made available for viewing.


Today's foreign word: kumla

This is a Norwegian potato dish. It was mentioned in today's USA Today, in an article discussing North Dakota's shortage of working age people. Despite their desperate need for more workers, the people of North Dakota are resistant to having immigrants come to their state for fear their culture will be diluted.

Part of that culture is of course the food. The article described how the old men meet in the diners each day and eat kumla.


While swimming at the Y this morning (sorry I cannot add the adjective "daily" to that, perhaps some day in the future), it occurred to me that the agony and torture of doing lap swimming is like playing the French Defence, characterized by Black's 1...e6 response to White's 1 e4. In the French Black endures an agonizing period of passivity and defensive moves to end up with a favorable endgame. So with swimming, one strengthens one's heart to enjoy a better endgame to one's life.

My copy of Modern Chess Openings (10th edition) has a famous introduction to the French: "French players are a breed apart. They are willing to submit to cramp and countless indignities in order to reach an endgame where the pawn structure definitely favours Black."

Weighing myself after the workout showed a weight of 182. My range from March 14th to the present has been from 177 to 183.

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