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  • Glenn Sonnenberg

Musings from the Bunker 5/21/20


Good morning!

It has been great to receive feedback on these musings from so many of you. Some has been complimentary, some grateful for another outlet that isn’t cable news, some has been substantive comments and recommendations (and a few corrections or complaints). I started this to maintain connection and generate some community in these challenging times. Among the things I have learned more than anything else is that I am blessed with some truly thoughtful friends and deep thinkers.

Today’s musings are some of the recent interesting commentary I’ve received from friends like you…

 

GAMES PEOPLE PLAY

Many people wrote about games they are playing during the pandemic. A lot of people are playing Settlers of Catan—and they are getting beaten by their adult children as often as I am! Games often mentioned are trivia games (Trivial Pursuit, Facts in Five, Jeopardy), and games of world domination or battle (Risk and Stratego). Jigsaw puzzles also saw a good deal of commentary.

But the best suggestion was Cribbage, which elicited this quote from J.D. Crouch: “It is a gentleman’s game combining equal measures of skill and chance.” To appreciate this, you have to imagine J.D. saying this while sipping a cognac in his library. Game, set, match.

On the subject of games, I love the “home recreation” of the kitsch painting of Dogs Playing Poker above.

 

MEETING A SPORTS HERO

I had asked about the two #32s on my wall back in high school (Koufax and Simpson). Larry Goldstein correctly pointed out that Jim Brown was a famous #32 and offered the following story:

"As a kid growing up in Baltimore, I played varsity lacrosse in high school. Back then, Jim Brown was my lacrosse idol, when he was at Syracuse. Most people don’t know his college lacrosse history, but he changed the game and the rules because of his style of play. When he went on to play for the Browns, I hated him, especially when they beat the Cots in the 1963 championship game.

He’s been a Mountaingate member for a long time, fairly standoffish, but approachable. A few years ago, sitting in our grill after a round, he’s sitting with his buds, and I’m with mine. I went over to his table to say hi, but went on to tell him about his inspiration to me as a lacrosse player. His face lit up and he was very excited to talk lacrosse with me. Now whenever I see him or pass by he always does a ‘cradling’ motion to me. It’s one of my sports highlights.”

 

FELLOW NERD

I was delighted to see that a friend from all the way back in elementary school sent me a picture of his bookshelf. It’s great to know someone else is OCD enough to organize their books by year… He has me beat on obscure dates. One book is called 1177 B.C. It’s about the end of the Bronze Age.

 

ANIMATED FILMS

A few glaring exclusion from my list of inspiring animated films (which previously included The Incredibles, Up, Wall-E and the phenomenal Iron Giant):

• Isle of Dogs, from Paul Kanin. Apropos for the times…

• Inside Out, from Jessie Kornberg. That each emotion exists inside the brain (control room) of a child is brilliant. This one really was great and I can’t believe I missed listing it last time…

 

BOOK SUGGESTIONS

From David Rochkind who, besides concurring on the Erik Larson books I’ve recommended adds these:

I highly recommend The WWII epic trilogy by Rick Atkinson (gripping) as well as The March of Folly by Barbara W. Tuchman. Another book that I have read over the past few years that made an impression was Guns, Germs and Steel from a UCLA professor (you should still check it out ;😊). Lastly, check out Pulitzer Prize winning, All The Light We Cannot See.

I haven’t read Atkinson. Tuchman is of course an amazing historian who writes literate works (see also A Distant Mirror, subtitled The Calamitous Fourteenth Century—a classic). Guns, Germs and Steel and All the Light are wonderful as well.

 

ON COLLEGES

America’s colleges are in “a whole lot of hurt,” not just from the steep run-up in tuition, the admissions scandals, the unfair admissions processes, and questionable value. But add the Coronavirus and the particular issues cited Adam Torson chose as his Quote of the Day last week and undergraduate education would appear seriously under siege:

“But it is a criticism of the tendency to burden institutions, especially educational institutions, with the impossible task of selecting the best. This should never be made their task. This tendency transforms our educational system into a race-course, and turns a course of studies into a hurdle-race. Instead of encouraging the student to devote himself to his studies for the sake of studying, instead of encouraging in him a real love for his subject and for inquiry, he is encouraged to study for the sake of his personal career; he is led to acquire only such knowledge as is serviceable in getting him over the hurdles which he must clear for the sake of his advancement.”

-- Karl R. Popper, The Open Society and Its Enemies, Volume One: The Spell of Plato

 

IGNORING THE RULES OF THE ROAD

Finally, Frank Maas notes the abandonment of rules in this pandemic:

“Also noticed on walks: those on/in moving vehicles have abandoned rules of the road. Bicycles barreling through stop signs at top speed. Cars barely pausing at stop signs. No wonder the news reports that the number of accidents is down while the number of serious injuries is up. While I’m at it bikers and runners seem to believe that they are excluded from masking. Finally, what am I doing replying to a Bunker – must need something to bitch about…"

Wishing you a wonderful day,

Glenn


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