The Darwin clan arrived back at a time that was technically this morning, though those of us in the front seat had, blessedly, refrained from falling asleep in the process. This isn't a state of mind conducive to writing a great deal, between tiredness, chores to catch up on around the house, and getting through the backlog at work. However, catching up on Google Reader a bit this morning and over lunch generated a number of things worth linking to briefly.
Over at The American Catholic, Donald McClarey publishes an address by Pope Benedict XVI about the live of Joan of Arc. Like, I suspect, a lot of Catholic, Joan of Arc is one of those saints which I know about only at the level which one gets from reading retellings for elementary school students. Benedict's description of her life, spirituality and death is typical of his writing in being both easily accessible and opening up unexpected depths to the reader.
Bearing writes about Siegfried Sassoon's poetry for Memorial Day. Like her, I list Sassoon among my favorite poets. Though the more I read of recent Great War scholarship, the more I realized that however much I enjoy their poetry, the WWI poets were part of an overall artistic and intellectual movement which seriously distorted a comprehensive understanding of the causes and fighting of the war which ushered in the modern age. The two books I'm currently working through on the topic are the recent and highly recommended 14-18: Understanding the Great War and Ernst Junger's harrowing Storm of Steel. Reading poetry like Sassoon's, Graves' and Owen's and watching movies like Paths of Glory and All Quiet on the Western Front gives you one narrative about what the Great War was like, Junger gives you the other side of the coin in a way that makes it far more explicable how the continent plunged into war again within a generation.
The Nation is not my usual reading material, but columnist Katha Pollitt's reaction to the Dominique Strauss-Kahn affair (and the defense of him by many French intellectuals of the Left) is interesting and on point: Dear France, We're So Over
There was a quirky calendar published every year by family friends (back in the day when publishing your own calendar involved all sorts of messing about with a typewriter and scissors and rubber cement and then heading off to a quick print shop) when I was young, which commemorated all sorts of odd events. One of them, noted on the January 15 square, was "21 Killed by 10ft Wave of Molasses, 1919". History blog 300 Words provides the story in slightly more detail.
I can only hope that someday Cyurkanin will tackle another favorite commemoration from that calendar: "San Francisco Man Assaults Wife With Frozen Squirrel"
Beth Haile of the Catholic Moral Theology blog writes a compassionate and well thought out article about the Catholic approach to the morality of artificial reproductive technologies, and explains why IVF is not a good expression of couples' loving desire to have children.
As a native (but gladly no longer a resident) of the Golden State, I found myself nodding a bit when reading this piece over at The American Interest.
4 hours ago