Monthly Archives: August 2008


Caught much of the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony last night. Except for a couple of "scenes" that did not work as well as the others (notably the Peking Opera episode), and one reminder of China's totalitarian past (the goose-stepping soldiers who hoisted the flag), the ceremony was a stunning spectacular. I remembered my friends in China, and though they must be as giddy with pride as I was struck with awe.

Comparing the photos now available on the Web: I thought the New York Times had the best selection of photos (their 17-frame slide show was largely their own work), but the captions were rather generic. That is, they were lifted from accompanying articles. The Guardian and the Telegraph had more photos, many of them taken by photographers working for wire services. I thought the Guardian's captions were to-the-point, while the Telegraph's selection had a better "sense of sequence," so to speak. The Age was first with an audio slide show, however, and it is very good indeed. (It also has a gallery of photos, taken mainly by Fairfax Media photographers.)

I thought this photo, used in the Times, quite effective; it allows the viewer both an outsider's look (I mean, we get a good idea of the scale of the event) and a behind-the-scenes perspective.



Filed under Readings in Media, Spiral Notebook

Column: A secret government

To be published August 5, 2008

Even in some of the world’s best blogs, the comment threads can sometimes get snagged in the bramble of insult. It was therefore with a sense of relief, thickening into joy, that after venturing into “Humanae Vitae” territory two weeks ago I received feedback that was, and continues to be, carefully thought-out and deeply reasoned.

Many of the letters actually took issue with my own stand, but except for one rather flippant remark, all of them sought to engage me, as the phrase goes, in a spirit of fraternal correction. I did not realize it was possible to enjoy being chastened!

I have not quite changed my mind, about what seems to me to be the fundamental flaw in the reasoning behind Pope Paul VI’s epochal encyclical. But I must thank Art Munariz for showing me, in his second letter, that an accusation I made, all too lightly—“And isn’t ‘recourse to the infertile period’ an act of intellectual dishonesty?”—was really quite unnecessary. I still think that the cerebral Paul VI made an error about the use of the infertile period to avoid conception, but now see that it could have been made in good faith, that it was an honest mistake.

I stand corrected.

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