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Archive for October 13th, 2009

Why it’s fun to read old newspapers

When I worked at The Herald-Sun I’d often go to the microfilm and pull out years at random. In especially enjoyed the ads. The whisky ads were always entertaining, with brands you just don’t see anymore, like Old Overholt. Entertainment ads also were interesting. With Durham being near the halfway point between New York and Atlanta acts like Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway and many other famous black entertainers would play nightclubs in town on their way south, their advance men alerting fans via ads in the paper.

I noticed that no matter how random my choice of microfilm, I’d invariably stumble on some famous event. Today was no different when I clicked on a blogger’s link to an old Los Angeles Times front page. It was dated Oct. 2, 1939, and, as one would expect, there was a lot of Hitler news. As I was reading the lead story, about Russia’s plans with regard to Hitler, there was this paragraph quoting First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill (emphasis added):

The Admiralty chief, in and empire broadcast, declared, “Russia has warned Hitler off his eastern dreams. But he added that he could not forecast Russia’s next move, terming it a “riddle wrapped in mystery inside an enigma.”

That’s the first time this oft-repeated phrase ever appeared in print. It’s usually said to have been Churchill’s assessment of the nation of Russia itself, but it actually seems to be his assessment of Russia’s intentions toward Hitler. Here’s the full quote from the radio speech:

“I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest.”

The “it” seems to refer to the “action of Russia” rather than just “Russia,” and clearly it’s Russia’s “action” that has to depend on Russia’s “national interest.”

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A very good question

Matt Welch asks:

The defeat of communism 20 years ago was the most liberating moment in history. So why don’t we talk about it more?

My guess would be because they’d have to credit Ronald Reagan and a muscular defense posture for it.

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HBCU struggles with diversity issues

Hampton University, the historically black university in Hampton, Va., is experiencing some turmoil after a non-black student was named Miss HU last week. The winner, Nikole Churchill, is the daughter of a father from Guam and an Italian mother:

Nikole Churchill, 22, competed against nine black students in the 15th annual Miss HU scholarship pageant. The senior nursing major attends the Virginia Beach campus and is the competition’s first non-black winner, according to executive pageant director Shelia J. Maye.

Churchill, who is from Hawaii, wrote Obama on Sunday to tell him that her crowning was met with negative comments because of her skin color. She invited him to visit HU and speak about racial tolerance.

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Oh, about those death panels…

In an unguarded moment that former Labor Secretary Robert Reich probably thought was also unrecorded, the Lilliputian Lefty tells the truth about national health care:

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Perdue to Atkinson: OK, You Win

There won’t be an appeal from the governor’s office over the ruling that solidified June Atkinson’s role as the head of K-12 public education in North Carolina. But that’s not to say that, in reality, Atkinson has all the power. Locke Foundation education policy analyst Terry Stoops sorts through the power question in this interview.

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Report: Wake County To Gain General Assembly Seats

It’s no surprise that Wake County has grown rapidly since the 2000 Census. And now, the political implications are becoming clearer as the 2010 Census approaches. A new report from the UNC Program on Public Life predicts Wake County will gain 2 N.C. House seats and 1 N.C. Senate seat when redistricting takes place based on the updated population numbers.

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Another Firing at NC State

Kudos to the News & Observer for this story. The head of NC State’s alumni association has been fired by interim chancellor James Woodward, reports the N&O. Just what, if anything, did university embarrassment about the Mary Easley hiring/firing fiasco have to do with Dr. Lennie Barton’s termination? The story indicates that some association members think it was a factor, based on a letter the paper obtained. Read the whole story. It’s worth your time, as are Don Carrington’s Carolina Journal stories about the Mary and Mike Easley situation.

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