Many people today rush home in eager anticipation of turning on the television to watch the best drama on prime time. "Desperate Housewives" and "Grey's Anatomy" may pass the time, but they cannot compete with the stagecraft found on the 24-hour "news" channels.
The first year I lived in Italy, a widely respected government minister was assassinated on his way to work. Massimo D'Antona had been walking to work in the morning along via Salaria in Rome when a Nissan van pulled up beside him. A young man exited the van and fired nine shots into D'Antona.
When two of my great uncles returned from World War II, they came home to a Forsyth County very different from that of today. It was a poor, but orderly farming community, where aside from a few professionals, most residents had little schooling. Yet despite the hardships faced by many families in the area, there was real opportunity to be had for a young man on the make.
Much has been made recently of the manner in which entrenched interests have settled their differences in France. Yet, with this week's election results, Americans will likely face similar political deadlock as our own governing bodies grind to a halt.
Even as recently as the 1960s, most public and private spaces in the South did not have air conditioning.
In his biography of the great teacher John Amos Comensky, written in 1910, the author A. W. Keatinge quotes frequently in Latin, and occasionally in French, with no translation provided. It is clear that for the intended reader none was needed. The university man of the time was expected to be bilingual, as had been the case since the Renaissance 500 years before.
This is certainly not the first age to indulge in vanity, but the height of spectacle to which we have taken it is surely unique. Perhaps it should not come as a surprise in a time when the most famous and revered public figures are popular entertainers. Legions of mediocre talents in drama, comedy, plainsong and simple chitchat are trotted out constantly to fill the air time between advertisements. Such performers have never been known for their modesty, restraint or moral rectitude, yet they have never been immolated more than they are now.
An old Italian definition of good fortune is to have lots of money and the time to spend it. Having one in abundance without the other is of little value. In this spirit of good living, middle class life throughout much of the civilized world includes setting aside the month of August for relaxation, travel and the pursuit of hobbies and pastimes.
Considering our recent financial catastrophe and the enormous import of the reform legislation currently under debate in congress, it is worth taking a moment to compare our situation to that of the legendary Sweetmilk, Ga.
It is a somewhat disheartening truth that technical advances are the most visible signs of human production today. The forward march of mechanical tinkering produces more and more efficient ways to raise food, move about, talk to one another, shelter our bodies, organize our time and dominate each other.
On Wednesday, Donald Landrum wrote to the Times deeply disturbed by a social encounter with a man he referred to as an "elderly gentleman." While out with his son, who happens to be a high school English teacher, an acquaintance of the family stopped to chat and then abruptly passed from courtesy to insult, belittling Mr. Landrum's son and his work by calling him a "babysitter."
With the erratic undulations of our current political and economic upheaval, it is only natural that our hunger for an explanation of events should increase.
For those committed to a way of life that requires raising crops and growing a vegetable garden this is a very special season. The first hot days have arrived and we are plunged into the all-consuming preparations that planting demands. Equipment is readied, the soil cultivated, purchases made, labors performed. And prayers for good weather are whispered in the night.
The turbulent economic times we are experiencing have recently produced a curious political byproduct: public rage. One need not go far to encounter it, for exaggerated anger fills virtually all public space for debate, from the airwaves to the opinion pages to the anonymous mobs on the Internet.
Just as a new mother cannot detect the daily changes her baby undergoes by reason of her constant proximity to the child, so those that are most grounded in their own country often miss the trends happening around them, for what shifts slowly is subtle and difficult to catch in motion.