My WAFCA Ballot

The Witch

The Washington Area Film Critics Association, which was foolish enough to induct me into its ranks years ago, released its nominees for its annual year-end awards yesterday; winners will be announced tomorrow. In the interest of transparency,* I figured I’d share my nominees and some thoughts on the choices with y’all. (I’ll update this post Monday morning when the winners are announced.)

Revisiting Humanity’s Darkest Chapter

Poland Auschwitz Birkenau Concentration Camp

It is one of the simplest, yet most horrifying forms of punishment one can imagine: throw a prisoner into a dark, empty cell, lock the door, provide no food or water, and leave them to die. Auschwitz’s notorious Block 11–known appropriately as “the death block,” and full of “starvation cells”–was meant to punish prisoners with torture. It is hard to imagine being put in the Suffocation Room, designed to make individuals suffocate from lack of air, or the standing cells, tiny areas less than a square yard in which four people would be held and sitting was impossible. They would stay like that for days, leaving the cells to work a full day of hard labor only to return at night and be forced to stand. Many would die of exhaustion in the holdings, each of which had one tiny opening to let enough air in to prevent the prisoners from suffocating.

Thinking at 36,000 Feet

/ Prayitno

Chesterton wrote somewhere that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder, with thanks “the highest form of thought.” As strange as it may sound at first blush, he was saying that gratitude is an activity of the intellect as much as an emotional response.

I’ve not read Chesterton in a decade, but I have just read Mark Vanhoenacker, the pilot-scribe whose award-winning book, Skyfaring: A Journey With a Pilot, has me reconsidering Chesterton’s line.

A Turning Point After All

'Surrender of General Burgoyne' by John Trumbull (1821)

The American Revolution was won on October 17, 1777, when John Burgoyne surrendered his British and German troops in upstate New York after losing a pair of battles—the disastrous ending of the British campaign to drive a line along the Hudson River Valley and thereby isolate radical New England from what they assumed were the more moderate colonies of the central and southern seaboard.

Three Sheets to the Winds of Change

Ray Mabus

On the morning of September 29, 2016, U.S. Navy commands around the world found in their inboxes NAVADMIN 218/16, an unclassified naval message which triumphantly announced Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus’ hard-fought victory over the restless ghost of Josephus Daniels in the battle to assume the ancient title of “Worst. SECNAV. Ever.” Considering Daniels prohibited the use of alcohol aboard U.S. Navy vessels in 1914, this was no small achievement.

Specifically, NAVADMIN 218/16 announced the replacement of so-called “ratings titles”—occupational labels for enlisted Sailors—with alphanumeric occupational codes used in the other armed services. A few of the rating titles, like Boatswain’s Mate and Gunner’s Mate, had been in use prior to the establishment of the U.S. Navy more than two centuries ago. The Navy was now playing fast and loose with history. Sailors and veterans balked.

Reading Homer Today

Rembrandt's 'Homer'

One of the most striking things about the Iliad and the Odyssey is the simultaneous universality and strangeness of the poems’ characters. We understand, for example, Hector and his wife’s need to speak about—and, at times, partly believe in—life after the war and the future of their young son, Astyanax, even though they both know there will be none. In book six, in a brief break from battle, Hector meets Andromache on the city wall, plays with his son briefly, and tells his wife he has no choice between life and death, only between a courageous death and a cowardly one. Still, he asks the gods to allow his son to “rule all Troy in power / and one day let them say, ‘He is a better man than his father!’” Homer ends the poem with Hector’s corpse burning on a funeral pyre, but in most other accounts of the war, Astyanax is thrown from the same wall to his death shortly after the fall of Troy.

NFL Week 13 Picks, With Paige Spiranac

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It has been almost a year since golfer Paige Spiranac has appeared on the Washington Free Beacon. That is my fault, and I apologize. I failed to keep up with the women’s circuit during the presidential election, and unfortunately missed Paige win her first professional event over the summer. Won my first tournament as a professional today on …