5 January 12020: Today is National Bird Day, for whatever that is worth. The saint of the day is Telesphorus, allegedly the seventh bishop of Rome, if you go in for that sort of thing. And it’s Stella Gibbons’ birthday. She’s the author of one of my all-time favorite books—yes, Cold Comfort Farm—and like me, was a great admirer of Jane Austen.
On this date in 1895 Alfred Dreyfus was stripped of his rank and ceremonially degraded for an act of treason against France actually committed by Ferdinand Walsin Esterhazy. Of course all the pro-military right-wingers rallied behind the traitor and condemned Dreyfus for the good of the nation and all that—just as today their spiritual descendents rally behind disgraced Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher. Some things don’t change. Where the hell are Georges Picquart or Émile Zola when you really need them?
In the news we see that Australia is burning while Jakarta is drowning—and still we’re not allowed to mention climate change. And the U.S. President thinks that the best way to stop a war is to start one. I’m not sure of the logic of that—it reminds me of the kid who thought the best way of keeping bees from stinging him was to bash their hive with a two by four. That would teach them a lesson, he thought. And it probably did, too.