Memo To: Website Fans, Browsers, Clients
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Back From a Mediterranean Cruise
Home sweet home! You may not have known I was gone, because I’d written several “Memos” in advance before Patricia and I flew off to Europe on September 19 for a long-planned vacation. We returned last night on a 9-hour flight from Rome, the last stop of a Mediterranean cruise on the Radisson Diamond, a wonderful luxury liner that we boarded in Nice. I plan to write about the cruise experience later this week or next in a bit more detail. Enough now to say it was a great success. I’d never ventured onto the high seas before, fearing mal de mer -- I tend to get motion sickness with the slightest turbulence. Patricia, though, discovered the Radisson fleet, designed to resist turbulence, and also loaded up on Dramamine, so all was well.
The idea was to get me away from my obsession with politics and economics and all that goes with it, which meant Patricia did not permit me to take my laptop. We had television in our stateroom, but except for a few minutes a day with CNN’s global channel to get the headlines, I resisted that form of turbulence too. She did allow me to read the International Herald Tribune now and then, but I became so happily disconnected from the real world that I wasn’t anxious to do that either. The exceptions were the stories that were big in Europe. The story that dominated last week was the referendum in Denmark last Friday, where democracy was working its wonders as the Danes decisively rejected participation in the euro. I love referenda of this sort and cheered when the vote was announced. It would take too much space here to tell you why the people rejected the euro and why I cheered, so I will devote Wednesday’s “Memo” to that topic. There also was plenty of blather about oil prices that I could not ignore. It has me thinking I should do something for one of the editorial pages, so I clipped a number of the oddest commentaries to remind me of the European perspective.
We lounged around a lot, reading, at the pool on board and on the grand, open balcony of our stateroom. After knocking off a few mysteries, Patricia read Anna Karenina in a few big gulps and is now determined to tackle War and Peace. I’d begun William Manchester’s The Glory and the Dream a few months ago, but could only manage a few pages when I had the time. With time to spare, I got through all of Volume I and its 845 pages and will proceed as soon as possible to Volume II. It is a “narrative history of America” from 1932 to 1972, with Vol. I ending in 1960. This again is a coming attraction of a future posting at this site, as I will recommend the book as a Christmas gift idea to those of you who have parents or grandparents who are old enough to remember what these years were like.
I also whipped through The Fortune Tellers, the new book by Howard Kurtz, the media critic of The Washington Post and CNN’s “Reliable Sources.” I’m a big fan of Kurtz and was not disappointed in the review copy he sent me, which arrived the day before we left. The book is about all the shenanigans in the financial press corps and their Wall Street “sources” in the turbulence of the NASDAQ stocks during the last three years. In advance, I told Howard I could not guarantee I would like the book, but Howard assured me he could handle my constructive criticisms. Happily, there is very little to criticize about the book, as I will write in one of the soon-to-come “Memos.” If you are into Wall Street and the Internet stocks, you don’t have to wait for my review. The Fortune Tellers is so well done I found it a delightful read, although you might take a Dramamine to get you through the retelling of all that trading turmoil.
If it still sounds as if I were too connected to work, reading Manchester and Kurtz, I assure you we spent more time playing gin rummy on our balcony card table and eating our way through the superb menu of the cruise ship. The good news is that while Patricia had me in the hole in our never-ending gin rummy competition right up to the last day, which we spent in a rainy Rome, I double-schneided her at the wire and pulled ahead. The other good news is that I only gained 6 pounds on the sojourn, Patricia only 3. I’d worried I might gain 20 pounds with all the food and drink constantly passing before us on the Diamond and at the ports-of-call we visited in France and Italy. Back home in New Jersey, we can work that off in no time at all.