Wednesday 22 November, 2023

A president comes home

JFK’s motorcade, driving down Shop Street in Galway, 29 June, 1963.

Quote of the Day

“It was almost impossible to believe that he was anything but a down-at-heel actor resting between engagements at the decrepit theatres of minor provincial towns.”

  • Bernard Levin on Harold Macmillan (UK Prime Minister 1957-63).

Musical alternative to the morning’s radio news

Marilyn Monroe singing Happy Birthday & Thanks For The Memories to JFK on May 29, 1962


Just over two months later (on August 4), she was dead.

Long Read of the Day

The Secrets of the JFK Assassination Documents

This is a deep dive by Scott Sayare down one of the great rabbit-holes of the 20th century — the question of whether there was a conspiracy to murder JFK in Dallas on November 22, 1963.

Three of the seven members of the Warren Commission eventually disavowed its findings, as did President Johnson. In 1979, after a thoroughgoing reinvestigation, the House Select Committee on Assassinations officially concluded that Kennedy “was probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy.” But such findings seemed not to penetrate. “In view of the overwhelming evidence that Oswald could not have acted alone (if he acted at all), the most remarkable feature of the assassination is not the abundance of conspiracy theories,” Christopher Lasch, the historian and social critic, remarked in Harper’s, “but the rejection of a conspiracy theory by the ‘best and brightest.’” For complex reasons of history, psychology, and politics, within the American Establishment it remained inadvisable to speak of conspiracy unless you did not mind being labeled a kook.

The question still retains its capacity to fascinate, and this long essay makes for interesting reading. It seems to be boosted by Barbara Shearer’s documentary, What the Doctors Saw, made by convening the physicians who were present in the Parkland Memorial Hospital’s emergency room to which Kennedy was brought after the shooting. The consensus of the medics was that one of bullet wounds in the President’s throat was an entrance wound, which implies that there was another assassin on the famous grassy knoll shooting from the front, as well as Oswald shooting from the Book Depository building from behind.

The trailer for Shearer’s film is here. The movie is streamed on Paramount, to which I don’t have access.

Books, etc.

Ten Reasons why you should read John Stuart Mill’s autobiography

Interesting blog post by Henry Oliver.

Here are the first three:

1.It’s a story about getting out of your intellectual and moral bubble, taking the people you disagree with seriously, and learning from them how to adjust your own deeply held beliefs.

2.Mill had several periods of depression, possibly related to his childhood and the way his father treated him. His remedy was a combination of outward exertion, self-discipline, and cultivating his artistic and naturalistic enjoyments.

3.The Romantic idea that you should “discover yourself” and become the best person you can become is treated very seriously by Mill. Along with the first two, this is one of the main cultural topics of our time.

Keep going…

Chart of the Day

Last Saturday (November 18), the planet’s temperature went past the 2.0 degree Celsius barrier for the first time. It’s temporary — but it’s also a reminder that we’re now in the end game for global warming.

(From Bill McGibben’s blog.)

My commonplace booklet

The Umbrella Man

Errol Morris’s lovely video on a conspiracy theory that wasn’t.

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