Open University

Tripping

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by Richard Stern
It was 9 degrees below zero when I woke this morning, minus 26 degrees wind chill. Neither of our old, low-mileage cars would start, it was not worth trying to get a cab to an appointment. Two days ago, in the heavy rains of Miami, our Bears were unable to adjust to Peyton Manning's short passes and the fierce, confident runs of a pair of Indianapolis Colts; our boyish
quarterback, Rex Grossman, kept tripping over his own feet and
under-throwing receivers.

A friend, watching the game on French television from midnight to 4:00 a.m, wrote that he'd never seen a game buried under so much pedagogy. "It eased the pain of the loss."

Is such salve a component of all pedagogy? If so, then it may be a component of the heavy-breathing semantic senatorial struggles over non-binding resolutions opposing the "surge" of American troops into the streets of Baghdad and Anbar province.

In Damascus, the somewhat worn, still lovely Diane Sawyer, interrogated the restrained, intelligent, very tall, very thin president of Syria, Bashar-al-Assad, the ex-opthalmologist whose sometimes giggly puzzlement about the inflexible, poorly-informed, head-in-the-sand non-diplomacy of the United States did not quite obliterate the memory of such statements as
the one he made in May, 2001, greeting Pope John Paul II, that the Jews tried "to kill the principles of all religions with the same mentality in which they betrayed Jesus Christ and the Prophet Mohammed." With Rex Grossman-like boyishness and sincerity, he assured Sawyer that Syria had nothing to do with the killing of President Hariri of Lebanon or with the financing of Hezbollah whose leader lives comfortably in Damascus not all
that far away from where the 42 year old president and his lovely, British-schooled, Sunni, ex-Morgan Stanley employee wife, Asma' al Akhrae, live with their three children.

Perhaps international conferences should be held under the auspices of such charming interrogators as Diane Sawyer. They seem to bring out the most rational and well-meaning responses from what otherwise can seem brutally narrow and automatically repetitive heads of state.

However, this isn't the way either the worlds of international diplomacy or professional football work. There it is nearly always raining or 25 degrees below zero, people are almost always marshalling their power to inflict maximum harm on their opponents and too much of the time they're tripping over their own feet or miscarrying their dubious self-assignments.

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