Chronicles Magazine Correspondence

The Unbearable Burden of Being

What has brought upon us the madness of the “transgender,” with all its sad denial of the beauty and particularity of male and female? To see the cause, we must diagnose the malady. It is boredom: an irritable impatience with the things that...

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  • Correspondence

    Boris's Literary Language

    For the first time since Winston Churchill, Britain is governed by a master of language. There have been few such in Downing Street history; most of those who become prime minister have devoted their entire life-effort to climbing “the greasy...

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  • Correspondence

    Inky Eyes Into China's Mind

    The newspaper boxes can be found around Washington, D.C., ranging from Union Station near the Hill to Foggy Bottom in the vicinity of the State Department. Inside, the newspaper articles emphasize positive, even entrepreneurial themes: investment...

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  • Correspondence

    Blowing for Elkhart

    Hobbled as I am by residual injury—I wear an ankle brace and limp a bit—and wheeling a large cornet/flugelhorn case, I was grateful when a man much younger than I held open a door for me as I entered the lobby for Elkhart’s Lerner Theatre.

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  • Correspondence

    The Patriot

    Italian journalists are forbidden these days from using the Italian word for foreign migrants who have stolen their way by subterfuge into Italy. By controlling which words people can use you can control their thought. It is a thoroughly fascist...

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  • Correspondence

    The Siege of Sweden

    In an era of political correctness, “safe spaces,” and “trigger warnings” for the constitutionally feeble, there are plenty of things we are not supposed to talk about. Increasingly in recent months, this seems to include crime and immigration...

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  • Correspondence

    Homesick in America

    “Darlin,’” she said, “I’ll get that. Go ahead and take it.” She was a weathered-looking woman with mousy light brown hair drawn back in a bun and the plain, honest look of one of those faces you see in Depression-era photos from the Dust Bowl,...

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  • Correspondence

    New Light on the Lakes

    We had been dreaming about Andalusia. But plans sometimes must be altered, and so one August evening we found ourselves instead entering into Ulverston, 1,300 miles from Andalusia, and even more distant climatically, culturally, and historically.

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  • Correspondence

    What Mean Ye By These Stones?

    Pro-slavery or no, a single one of Fitzhugh’s works is easily worth all the publications of a dozen 21st-century mainstream conservatives—neo-or crunchy. Who believes that modern man is so enlightened that he has nothing to learn from Fitzhugh,...

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  • Correspondence

    Chained Bible

    The Church of England is now a citadel of advanced liberalism. It went over to secularism long ago, and its zealots intensify their hold upon doctrine and practice. The charge sheet includes, but is not confined to, support for the transgender...

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  • Correspondence

    Worse at What It Is

    New York is always changing: It’s the city that never sleeps. When local writer Kay Hymowitz wrote a book about Brooklyn recently she talked about “creative destruction” on almost every other page. She had a point, and the city has seen both...

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  • Correspondence

    Success in “Defeat”

    What do you do when people favor your ideas but your party is shut out of government? That’s the dilemma faced by the far right in the Netherlands. The Party for Freedom, led by Geert Wilders, settled for second place in the national election...

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  • Correspondence

    Unnumbered Years

    Ravens over North Berwick Law—could any phrase be more hyperborean? I turned the words over lazily as I watched them 50 feet above, circling and diving on one another, flicking expert wings, commenting incessantly on their sport as they...

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  • Correspondence

    Demolition Day

    The 150th Anniversary (or Sesquicentennial) of Canadian Confederation will be celebrated on July 1. That holiday was traditionally denominated “Dominion Day,” as Canada was officially called “the Dominion of Canada”—a term which has now fallen...

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  • Correspondence

    Did Populism “Lose”?

    The media’s fixation on Geert Wilders obscures what ought to be the most striking result from the Dutch general election: The Liberal-Labour coalition government, which pursued tough fiscal policies and produced economic growth, was destroyed.

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  • Correspondence

    Race Against Reason

    We are living in a racially charged climate. Problems associated with the relations between the races seem endemic to all areas of our sad and beleaguered culture. Discussions of law enforcement are dominated by the alleged racism of police...

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  • Correspondence

    Never and Always

    I turn down the soothing voice of “Gentleman Jim” Reeves. He looks at me from the CD case, a face thought of as handsome in his day, though Jim seems too mature and, maybe, just a bit innocent, even naive, for our jaded time.

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  • Correspondence

    Dayton’s Holy Family

    “If you’ve got a business—you didn’t build that,” President Obama declared in 2012. But chances are you bought that, especially if you are a Midwestern entrepreneur and the product is Renaissance art.

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  • Correspondence

    Paris Holds Her Breath

    In the days that followed the November terrorist attacks, many here in Paris were paralyzed. This is a level of violence and death to which those of us in the First World are simply unaccustomed, though modern jihad threatens to change that very...

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  • Correspondence

    No Piety, No Justice

    The annual pro-life rally has become a pilgrimage for many, and even if it has failed to stop abortion it has at least helped maintain social space for those who oppose it. Pro-lifers have ensured that abortion is still a live issue—no...

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  • Correspondence

    Identity and Appearances

    England is full of unease, strikingly expressed in an IPSOS/MORI poll of over 1,000 adults released on August 21, which for the first time showed that immigration has overtaken the National Health Service and the economy as the principal public...

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  • City of Westminster

    We Asked For It

    For almost two decades, or ever since Tony Blair became prime minister, the British have moaned about a lack of opposition in politics. All our politicians “sound the same,” we say—and they do, it’s true.

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  • Correspondence

    A Long Time Gone

    Two young people, one a 16-year-old schoolgirl, the other a 21-year-old carpenter, married in my mother’s home church in Houston’s West End on Valentine’s Day, 1953. The neighborhood was filled with wooden houses resting on cinder blocks, my...

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  • Correspondence

    Paterfamilias

    In America today, we seem to face two alternatives: accepting hordes of invaders with alien cultures and ideologies, who are unwilling to assimilate and whose presence endangers the vestiges of our civilization; or homogenizing America into a...

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  • Correspondence

    An American Tragedy

    The story of “America’s deadliest sniper,” Texas-born and -bred Navy SEAL Chris Kyle (credited with more than 160 “confirmed” kills), himself shot down in 2013 by a disturbed war veteran he was trying to help, has become a social litmus test,...

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  • Correspondence

    Charmless

    Early in Owen Wister’s 1905 novel Lady Baltimore, the narrator, recently arrived in Charleston from Philadelphia, remarks upon the stillness of the city, its “silent verandas” and cloistered gardens behind their wrought iron gates—“this...

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  • Correspondence

    Two Ways of Dying

    Thomas More’s world was one in which reminders of death were all around, and also one in which most people reflexively accepted the tenets of Christianity, including the knowledge that, in the words of an earlier English playwright, “the...

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  • Correspondence

    Flyover Math

    In January, George Mason University published a survey of the financial solvency of our country’s 50 states. Illinois came in at 48th place, just in front of Connecticut and New Jersey. The Land of Lincoln caught a bit of a break, it seems.

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  • Correspondence

    Suicide State

    “We don’t divorce our men; we bury them,” instructs Stella Bernard, played by a loony Ruth Gordon, in Lord Love a Duck (1966). That’s certainly better social policy than America has pursued since 1970, with no-fault divorce shattering...

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  • Correspondence

    My Big Brother

    Not long ago, while reading A.J.P. Taylor’s impressively turgid English History: 1914-1945, I found, suspended in the tepid depths of all the fussily annotated tables and statistics, a sentence that all but knocked me out of my chair.

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  • Correspondence

    Old Route 66

    For years I’ve wanted to take a motorcycle trip on Old Route 66. I finally got my chance last September, along with other members of the Southern California Norton Owners Club. The ride was open to anyone with a vintage British motorcycle.

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  • Correspondence

    Interview With a Border Warrior

    In 2008, Sheriff Paul Babeu became the first Republican elected to that office in the 136-year history of Pinal County, Arizona...he was voted the 2011 Sheriff of the Year by the National Sheriffs’ Association and has, since this interview was...

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  • Correspondence

    God and Man at Wabash

    On Monday, September 12, my friend and mentor died at the age of 82 from lung cancer after a decade of up-and-down health problems borne without complaint—a man whom I have loved more than any other man but my own father, starting from the time...

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  • Correspondence

    China's Lord of Heaven

    I have been spending my spring sabbatical in China. As I am a sinologist, specializing in traditional Chinese poetry, there is nothing surprising in that, except that I have not been here since 1981, when I led a tour group for less than three...

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  • Correspondence

    Of Monkeys and Mermaids

    Everyone inquires about you, of course, & I invariably assure them that motherhood flatters you & that you and your amiable Yankee husband grow daily more prosperous. But, alas, I have little in the way of gossip to retail.

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  • Correspondence

    An Englishman in New York

    A 1930’s guide to New York said of Inwood, “Rivers and hills insulate a suburban community that is as separate as any in Manhattan”—a turn of phrase simultaneously redolent of security and the proximity of wilderness. Inwood is no longer insulated.

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  • Correspondence

    The European Waugh

    Auberon Waugh—Bron to his friends and enemies—inspired as much hate and contempt as he did love and admiration. Much the same was true of his father, the novelist Evelyn, but in real life the two men were very different, as those who knew them...

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  • Correspondence

    The Bookman

    I remember Granddad as an old man, sitting in his reading chair or working in his garden, but you could still see the younger man in him, the one who had ridden the rails during the Depression, seeking work in California and Oregon with his...

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  • Correspondence

    Johnny Johnson

    For Johnny Johnson, it was always Saturday night. He was the stuff of fictional heroes who prevail over their circumstances. A British army doctor who later joined the Royal Navy, Johnny came from a broken home, never married, and eventually...

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  • Correspondence

    Prosperity

    Declining prosperity is now a settled fact of American life. Prosperity is not measured by the day’s average of stock speculation, or the profits of bankers, or the munificence of government subsidies and salaries, or the consumption of luxury...

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  • Correspondence

    In Search of Flannery O'Connor

    In late June, a friend and I traveled into Central Georgia, looking for Flannery O’Connor. Mary Ann had never heard of Flannery O’Connor. She didn’t know Hazel Motes from a hole in the ground and assured me she had never encountered “A Good Man...

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  • Correspondence

    Remember Katyn

    I arrived in Poland just as the television announced the tragic death of President Lech Kaczynski, his wife, Maria, and many of Poland’s military and political leaders in an airplane crash at Smolensk in Russia. A week of mourning followed...

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  • Correspondence

    Imagine No More Meresy

    A seven-foot bronze statue of the late Beatle John Lennon greets travelers at the international airport in Liverpool that bears his name. It’s fitting that Lennon’s impish image—hands inserted in pants pockets—is displayed at the airport...

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  • Correspondence

    The Quest for Certitude

    I must thank you sincerely for your extremely thoughtful gift of Saturday by British novelist Ian McEwan. I have read the book with great interest and enjoyment. What is more, it has sent me back to “Dover Beach,” which it uses so...

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  • Correspondence

    Bear

    We were driving back to Michigan after a conference on Herbert Hoover that I had organized for the Hoover Presidential Library in West Branch, Iowa, in 1984. After you get past Hammond and Gary, Indiana is flat but quite nice. Our beautiful...

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  • Correspondence

    The Lord's Shepard

    We had known it was a “white road” when we had found it on the map, but when my wife and I got to the start of it, we hesitated. There was a sign at the junction, and it made us stop and think: RD 103 EN LACUNE CIRCULATION DANGEREUSE ET...

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  • VIEWS

    Of Genes, Vowels, and Violence

    Why do the British speak English and not a variety of Welsh? Philip Jenkins, having fallen under the sway of a Harvard medieval historian, Michael McCormick, believes it is because the invading Germans of the fifth and sixth centuries killed all...

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  • Letters to the Bishop

    The Peter Principle

    All across America this Valentine’s Day platoons of men will stand at the counters of flower shops and grocery stores, clutching cards, chocolates, and roses to their chests, tokens of affection for their wives and lady friends (and sometimes, no...

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  • Correspondence

    I Remember

    For some years I have lived in Québec as a friendly alien from the United States, traveling from time to time back to my native Minnesota and other states to practice law in my fields of interest. I am married to a French-Canadian wife who is a...

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  • Correspondence

    A Tsunami of Towers

    Here, you can see almost forever. It is a great green plain bounded by low wolds to the west and the North Sea to the east, by the River Humber to the north and the shining mudflats of the Wash to the south.

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  • Correspondence

    A Living Past

    It is a small town in Bavaria, and it is at least 32 degrees C. The camera weighs heavy in my hands, and I can feel speckles of sweat accumulating beneath my black rucksack, as it soaks up the sun like a square and sinister sponge.

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  • Correspondence

    Two Cheers for Howard

    Drawing up a balance sheet for assessing Mr. Howard’s reign (the longest of any Australian leader save for Sir Robert Menzies) is difficult, purely because its highlights bear no discernible relation to the rest of his actions and give the...

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  • Correspondence

    Bridge of Hope

    In 1958, when the first barbed-wire barricades were rolled out by the British colonial government across Ledra Street in the capital of Cyprus, it seemed inevitable that the seeds of division would yield a bitter harvest of intercommunal...

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  • Correspondence

    Imagination Deficit

    In spite of the Herculean labors of their spin doctors, politicians on the stump often say stupid things in the heat of the moment, and you are probably right to resent the unfairness of journalists who exaggerate the importance of such mundane...

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  • Correspondence

    The Slavic League

    For as long as young Villem could remember, hunkeys had occupied the lowest rung in Punxsutawney’s social pecking order. The Italians had their various business enterprises; the Irish had their legions of bishops, monsignors, and priests; and...

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  • Correspondence

    The Right to Blaspheme?

    The vociferous and, at times, incendiary uproar that suddenly erupted in early February with the publication in Paris of 12 “satanic drawings,” supposedly caricaturing Muhammad, offered the world one more proof of the extent to which, thanks to...

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  • Correspondence

    Irreducible India

    When Vasco da Gama’s three battered little ships dropped anchor off Calicut on May 20, 1498, after a voyage of over ten months, they had finally found the sea route between Europe and India so long sought by Portugal’s kings and explorers.

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  • Correspondence

    The Yoke of Democracy

    In a strange way, it appears that Adolf Hitler is still ruling Germany. In the Federal Republic of Germany, the forces of “democracy,” in the form of political parties, make political decisions by implementing the opposite of what they assume...

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  • Correspondence

    Everybody Hans Küng Tonight!

    “If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?” This old bit of black humor popped into my mind as I drove home from a local college after attending a lecture, entitled “My Long Road to a Global Ethic,” delivered by dissident...

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  • Correspondence

    Saints and Pilgrims

    Marie’s walk was an act of prayer for her brother, who had leukemia. Alessandro had recently endured a divorce and was walking to find peace. Klaus was taking time out to decide what to do with his life after losing his job.

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  • Correspondence

    Another Untaught Generation

    When Dickens wrote about the “ragged schools” that so pitifully attempted to address the problem of London’s uneducated underclass, he was less moved by their pupils’ physical wretchedness, which was extreme, than by their spiritual poverty,...

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  • Correspondence

    A Question of Boredom

    Anybody who has ever watched a home video knows how painful is the passing of unedited time. No matter what or who is the subject of the exposition—sex, drugs, rock ’n’ roll, deep conversation, one’s own or other people’s children, Osama bin...

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  • Correspondence

    Tangerine Dreams

    Behind the recent headlines here in Mexico of massive peasant protests, blocked highways and international crossings, and demands for NAFTA treaty renegotiation lay a few facts about incompetence, corruption, and inefficiency.

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  • Correspondence

    Made for Love

    Vanity plates, I once heard—vehicle registration numbers, in other words, that are believed to hold meanings or to pose riddles, in the pedestrian minds of idle onlookers and fellow motorists stuck in traffic—often cost many times more than the...

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  • Correspondence

    Tainted Love

    Conservatives rightly honor George Washington, but why should any conservative so much as like Washington, D.C.? The answer seems as perplexing as the desire of a tourist to buy an “I Love D.C.” T-shirt from one of the Third World vendors on...

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  • Correspondence

    A Sentimental Return

    Returning to a city you once loved is always a perilous experience, for it is so easy to be disappointed—as happened to me several years ago when I returned to Venice, a seaborne city I had not seen for more than 40 years.

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  • Correspondence

    Children in the Hellmouth

    In the week before English schools closed for the summer, three educational news items grabbed the national headlines. This is not especially remarkable in itself: English education has been in a state of revolution for years, and unsettling...

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  • Correspondence

    Killing Money

    “I simply find it hard to believe,” a Moscow friend of mine yells into the telephone a respectable number of minutes before asking me to lend him some trifling sum just this once, “that, with everything going on in London, roulette is all you can...

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  • Correspondence

    Attack of the Greenies

    I was born and grew up in Washington’s rural Ferry County, in the northeastern corner of the state. In 2000, Republican Sen. Slade Gorton was narrowly defeated by ex-Democratic Congressman Maria Cantwell, who spent huge sums of money and yet...

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  • Correspondence

    Flag Country

    I live in flag country. Here in east-central Illinois, amid the corn and soybean fields, the whistle-stop towns on their grid of well-maintained blacktops, the Stars and Stripes are as common as blue jeans.

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  • Correspondence

    Privatization in Serbia

    In articles dealing with the 2002 presidential election in Serbia, I have made passing references to Zoran Djindjic as “Serbia’s kleptocratic prime minister” and to his “corrupt establishment” that “controls the economy and the media more...

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  • Correspondence

    Unseen Places

    In Huysmans’ Against the Grain (1884), the precious hero Des Esseintes has “the idea of turning dream into reality, of traveling [from France] to England in the flesh as well as in the spirit, of checking the accuracy of his...

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  • Correspondence

    How Long, O Lord?

    Since the Middle Ages, the Balkan region of Kosovo-Metohia has witnessed firsthand the confrontation between Christianity and Islam. Metohia is a Greek word meaning “the Church’s land,” and Orthodox Christians consider Kosovo an outpost of their...

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  • Correspondence

    Fighting the Good Fight

    For now, secession has failed. In the November 2002 elections, a referendum to separate the Valley from the City of Los Angeles and to create the City of San Fernando Valley passed 51 to 49 percent in the Valley but lost 67 to 33 percent in the...

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  • Correspondence

    What the Loser Wins

    The reason I am loath ever to set foot in the casino of Venice is that, in mournful contrast to just about everything else that fast moors me to her flooding shores, the Casinò di Venezia at Palazzo Vendramin is not an anachronism.

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  • Correspondence

    The Prosciutto War

    The mid-December 2001 E.U. summit in Laeken, Belgium, will probably be remembered most for its “prosciutto war,” which began when Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi refused to approve the new food agency to be located in Helsinki, Finland,...

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  • Correspondence

    Blizzard

    Storms and other phenomena of nature have their own distinct sounds. Those who have survived a tornado often say that it sounded “like a train.” A volley of cannon fire accompanies every thunderstorm.

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  • Correspondence

    Que Bueno?

    Colorado voters will likely be asked to decide this November on a proposal that would amend the state constitution to guarantee that public schools put non-English-speaking students in one-year immersion courses rather than the...

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  • Correspondence

    Holding On to a Culture

    For a political party that celebrates diversity, it is certainly an odd choice. The Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) Party of Minnesota, like the Democrats nationwide, has celebrated its role in promoting multiculturalism and massive immigration.

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  • Correspondence

    Little Goodbyes

    The sun is breaking through, the dark green grass shimmering as it is swept back and forth by the wind like the mane of a wild mustang running along a plain. Down here, near Madisonville along I-45 South, the rains had come hard and heavy.

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  • Correspondence

    Putting the Children First

    Until the mid-1970’s, public education in Louisiana, like that in much of rural America, was solidly and successfully based on traditional methodology and philosophy, which emphasized academic excellence, an honest curriculum, discipline, and...

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  • Correspondence

    Stage Fright

    In sober truth, if I were the person my correspondent suspects me of being, I would be offended. I would now be thinking of him as a sworn enemy. I would not dream of helping him to air his grievances or of looking for a kernel of substance in...

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  • Correspondence

    Catholic Charity

    I heard the latest twist in the story at the end of our two hours of teaching English at the Catholic mission. We volunteers taught the Latin American students—six simultaneous classes at different levels—in one big, noisy room.

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  • Correspondence

    Educating for Jeopardy

    In 1986, I enrolled my oldest daughter in the same public school that my husband and I had attended. I knew from my experience in public education that there were problems, but I was hopeful that, with our participation in her schooling, she...

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  • Correspondence

    Dubious Allies

    “We love our children, but we need food,” says Masih Saddiq, a 50-year-old brickmaker, explaining why none of his 13 children were in school. They range in age from one-and-a-half to 25; all seem destined to spend their entire lives making...

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  • Correspondence

    North and South

    My friend Maglio explains that the Sicilian spoken by our hero is high Palermitan, which is far more different from the dialects of the countryside than, say, the sounds of Tuscany are from those of Umbria.

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  • Correspondence

    Tea With Trotsky

    A few months ago, when word of an article of mine about the events of September 11 went round the Russian community in London, I received a telephone call inviting me to a private meeting with Boris Berezovsky.

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  • Correspondence

    Mad Cow Madness

    One of the hallmarks of our crazy, crazed, and increasingly raucous age is the insidious war that is being waged in most regions of the Western world against silence, virtually blackballed as an undesirable, something to be avoided at almost any...

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  • Correspondence

    A Message for Boys

    The steamy morning reminded the congregation that Baltimore is on the shore and was once considered part of the South. The heat and the elderly substitute for the vacationing rector made the service informal and cozy, but if I had known the small...

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  • Correspondence

    Tolerance, Finally

    The implosion of the right-wing official opposition Alliance Party under its young evangelical leader Stockwell Day dominates the headlines of most of Canada's papers and feisty tabloids: Will the "gang of eight" dissident Alliance MPs be hung...

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  • Correspondence

    Harvest Moon

    I first noticed it as I drove past, heading for one of those small-town Wisconsin festivals, this one celebrating the largest earthen dam in the Midwest (by their claim, of course) nestled in the stanitsa of Spring Valley.

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  • Correspondence

    Ethnicity as a Way of Life

    Years ago, an Hungarian friend of mine, eager to finish a novel, decided to go to Corsica to find the peace and quiet he craved. Some six months later, after he returned to Paris, I asked him if, during his stay, he had picked up any Corsican.

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  • Correspondence

    Public Relations

    "All the cars you see around here," yet another taxi driver bringing me from the Grand Hotel Villa Igiea to the congested center of town began in a confidential undertone, "it wasn't always like that, you know.

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  • Correspondence

    Rome as We Found It

    In horse-and-carriage days, foreign visitors to Rome, after an arduous Alpine crossing, commonly entered the city from the north, by the Milvian Bridge which has existed since the second century B.C. Here, on October 28, 312, Constantine had a...

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  • Correspondence

    The Women's Movement

    After an uninterrupted spell of a winter month or two here in Venice—all footsteps in the evening mist, and quiet conversation about the best way to cook pheasant, and a Neapolitan card game called "seven and a half—what one notices on arriving...

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  • Correspondence

    Gifts From Afar

    It was just before Christmas, and for some reason I thought the fishing would be good in the Dominican Republic during that time of the year. I had no information to that effect, but a friend, who does not fish, spoke favorably of DR.

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  • Correspondence

    Frozen Souls

    Kelli Moye has become the pretty young face of America's culture of death. Standing trial for the cold-blooded murder of her newborn daughter, she has provided us with a test case for Middle America.

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  • Correspondence

    Whodunit?

    Taxi drivers in Belgrade, like their counterparts everywhere, know almost everything about almost everything. However, they do not know who murdered the controversial commander of the Serbian Volunteer Guard (SDG), Seljko Raznatovic Arkan and...

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  • Correspondence

    Copperhead Road

    I grew up in Alden, New York, a small town about 20 miles east of Buffalo. My parents still live there, and they (especially my mother) are very active in the town historical society and its museum.

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  • Correspondence

    The Battle of Richmond

    The history police from Orwell's "Ministry of Truth" are at it again. Robert F. Lee's picture, among 30 planned for an historical display along Richmond's waterfront, was briefly removed because of protests by City Councilman Sa'ad El-Amin.

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  • Correspondence

    Gone Fishing

    Maybe it's the increasing need to find a replacement for what America once was, or just the plain joy of sports fishing, but whatever die real motive, I found myself headed for Costa Rica in October.

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  • Correspondence

    Hey, Macarena!

    To most Americans, even to readers of Chronicles, the eastern fringe of Slovakia, where I come from, must seem like the other end of the world, but the truth is—and I am not a tourist agent—Slovakia is one of the most beautiful places in Europe.

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