The first week of hearings in the Trump impeachment inquiry presented a dizzying array of names and dates from the Ukrainian scandal for the public to digest. However, one Zen like question seemed to be left at the conclusion of the testimony. If a quid pro quo was uttered in Washington but no Ukrainians heard it, did it make an impeachable sound? - From The Hill: Read the rest of Jonathan Turley's column here.
I know two people who have aphantasia. Have you ever heard of that condition? I certainly had not until these two told me that they cannot picture things in their mind's eye. Here are some details from Scientific American. What other ways of thinking do most of us take for granted that are not be shared by everyone?
The common idea that success spoils people by making them vain, egotistic, and self-complacent is erroneous; on the contrary it makes them, for the most part, humble, tolerant, and kind. Failure makes people bitter and cruel. - W. Somerset Maugham [Photo by Randalyn Hill at Unsplash]
Usually when you agree to write the introduction to a book, you do so because you truly care about the book: it's readable, it's got a high literary quality, so that you like or at least admire the author. This book, however, is the extreme opposite. It's filled with evil, and this evil is narrated with a disturbing bureaucratic obtuseness; it has no literary quality, and reading it is agony. Furthermore, despite his efforts at defending himself, the author comes across as what he is: a coarse, stupid, arrogant, long-winded scoundrel, who sometimes blatantly lies. Yet this autobiography of the Commandant of Auschwitz is one of the most instructive books ever published because it very accurately describes the course of a human life that was exemplary in its way. In a climate different from the one he happened to grow up in, Rudolph Hoess would quite likely have wound up as some sort of drab functionary, committed to discipline and dedicated to order - at most a careerist with modest ambitions. Instead, he evolved, step by step, into one of the greatest criminals in history. - Primo Levi's introduction to Commandant of Auschwitz by Rudolf Hoess
Knaves, Fools & Heroes: Europe Between the Wars by Sir John Wheeler-Bennett was published in 1974. It is a witty and fascinating account by a well-connected British historian who knew many of the diplomats and government officials of his time. The book is especially revealing with regard to the fall of the Weimar Republic in Germany. The portraits are memorable. An example: "There may have been stupider politicians than [Franz] von Papen but, if so, I have not encountered them. There were really very few virtues that one could attribute to him save the valour of ignorance and the imperturbability of supreme conceit."
We were sitting on the patio under a black, moonless sky, our faces lit by the flickering light of a few candles in the center of a large stone table. We all had iced drinks in our hands or in front of us. His interruption took the form of very slowly putting down the glass that was in his hand - so slowly and so quietly, and with such a measured, even movement that at first it seemed like some kind of ritual gesture. Everyone suddenly became quiet and looked at him, waiting. I remember listening for a long time to the waves of the bay and watching the lights of San Francisco across the water. The wind was shifting and turning cool. People were putting their collars up and hugging themselves, but no one dared get up. Foghorns were answering each other like far-off, unseen sea creatures. Just as slowly and evenly, he angled his long, lean body back in his chair and gazed at nothing in particular. Then he turned his head as though it were a gun turret and looked directly at the husky, bearded young man who had just been speaking about the crimes of America. In the flickering candlelight, his bony face seemed wondrously alive and menacing at the same time. What he said to the young man - and of course to all of us present - was only this: "You don't know what you have here." Then, after an uncomfortable pause, "You simply don't know what you have." - From The American Soul: Rediscovering the Wisdom of the Founders by Jacob Needleman [Photo by John Bakator at Unsplash]