Omnium Gatherum – The Crier of Saint Anselme
It’s hard to be inspiring during one hour. It’s one of the reasons why the State of the Union address is usually more memorable for its blunders and controversies than for its fiery rhetoric. This year’s edition is much the same. Biden gave his SOTU at a time of exhaustion for the American people. We suffered from COVID for two years. Prices are rising and it looks like there will be no immediate relief.
It was an opportunity for President Biden to call for national renewal. To capitalize on our distaste for Russia and the drop in COVID cases. The national moment called for a speaker like President Obama, who could inspire hope. Instead, President Biden spoke for 62 minutes about spending priorities. I watched the speech with other students from Saint Anselme. I felt no hope, only frustration.
66 countries boycotted the Moscow Summer Olympics in 1980. International sporting events have long symbolized peace and unity. When a country breaks this peace, it is ostracized. The 1980 boycott was triggered by the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Today we are witnessing a new boycott of Moscow.
Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, almost every international sports organization has sought to distance itself from Russia. The IOC has announced a general ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes. The Paralympic Games started this week without Russians. FIFA and the Premier League have taken dramatic steps to exclude Russian teams and owners from European football. The International Judo Federation has suspended Putin’s symbolic presidency within the organization, and World Taekwondo has revoked the Autarch’s black belt. Even chess, the most Russophile of international sports, has sought to separate itself from the invasion of Ukraine.
The response from the sports community has been incredibly robust. The IOC and FIFA are known for their scandals and corruption more than for their moral positions. Let’s not forget that the stadiums for the 2022 World Cup were built by slaves and the host of the 2022 Olympics is currently committing genocide against a religious minority. Perhaps the media coverage has made Russian sins harder to ignore than those of Qatar and China.
Streaming ushered in a golden age of content, or so we’re told. One of the best shows aired so far this year is Jack Reacher on Amazon’s Prime Video. Based on a book series previously made into a film by Tom Cruise, the series follows the titular Jack Reacher, a former MP. He roams the fried town of Margrave, Georgia. As you might expect, there’s more to Margrave than meets the eye. What makes the show so unique is how the writers and filmmakers handle Reacher’s strength. One of the biggest fan complaints about the Tom Cruise version is how short Cruise is. Canonically, Jack Reacher is six foot five. Alan Ritchson, who plays Reacher, is a respectable six-foot-two, but he becomes a hulking mass with clever camera angles. This mass is an important source of dialogue and adds a new element to a story otherwise painted by numbers. Sometimes even the viewer fears him. There is an episode where Reacher sets up a trap for a group of unnamed villains. The score uses the deep baritones of a horror movie as Reacher stalks his prey. He is only revealed through flashes and fleeting shadows as he maims goon after goon. It’s a memorable scene that keeps the tension going throughout. The show requires a bit of a strong stomach (you’ll find out why in episode two) but is definitely worth watching.
Mid-semester recess starts this weekend. Conversatio students will have submitted the first essay of the semester and we are all in the midst of a stressful midterm season. Now is a time when it is easy to burn out and fall behind. If you start to feel the symptoms of this fatigue in the middle of the semester, take steps to address it before your work is affected. Take the time to eat a meal with friends. Try to make a study plan instead of getting overwhelmed with loads of homework. Getting a good night’s sleep is more important than ever. Eat well before your mid-runs and stay positive.