Running late with this newsletter last night I decided to put it on hold until I could catch some of the London Olympics opening ceremony. I caught the first 40 minutes or so this morning before I had to rush off to another task but, wow, what an event! The Brits have really thrown all their patriotism and wit into a presentation of their history that conjures up both “England’s green and pleasant land” and the “dark satanic mills” of the industrial revolution that made the country the workshop of the world. The spirits of Shakespeare, James Watt, the Suffragettes and early cricketers hovered over the scene. What a lot the world owes to British genius.
A brilliant piece of work had steelworkers forging a circle of “molten ore” which became the fifth ring of the Olympic symbol suspended above the stadium, glowing and streaming rays of light on the awestruck citizens beneath. Quite wonderful. But the real show-stealer was the James Bond and Queen Elizabeth team flying to the stadium by helicopter and then apparently parachuting down. As if by magic, the Queen then appeared in the stands, to massive cheering. That was a very clever piece of fun, something I think the British, for all their dryness, are especially good at.
I popped back later to make sure that the Kiwi team was there -- big cheers as they paraded on -- and will be keeping an eye on performances. I must admit to occasional scepticism about the scale and brouhaha of the Olympic Games, but it is reassuring to see the nations of the world all trying to look their best and smiling, for once. May the best men and women win (especially is they are from NZ).
Our new articles: Robert P. George applies his great intellect to the same-sex marriage juggernaut, showing that defenders of marriage must actively resist being put on “the wrong side of history”. My piece reviews a recent memoir of two women who experienced the siege of Sarajevo. Prof Walter Schumm conducts a thought experiment about morality. And George Friedman looks at how the civil war in Syria will play out.