The Commentator is back: Betterly, badderly, bitterly? A Moving experience

I've been moving all week. Not surprisingly, there was no time to write on a fricken blog. Yet, even in the middle of a hectic move there's a story to be told at all corners and intersections of our oft inexplicable lives. One need only pay attention to what is around them. Before I continue, our thoughts are with Survival Theory during her difficult period.

Let's start with the efficient movers I hired at $70/hr. I wasn't sure what I was going to get since this was my first time hiring movers. I was not disappointed. Here were two non-Canadian born guys picking up pieces that would normally take two First-world people to lift and carry; Ford and GM pay attention. It's amazing what imported non-unionized labor can accomplish in three hours. Judging by their appearance and rugged facial expressions, it was quite noticeable they were from another part of this planet. Surely enough, we eventually were informed that they were from Kazakstan.


For the first time I froze. Normally, I have something to say about most countries in this world but this one chilled me. What was the capital? All those 'Stans' that popped up after the fall of the quasi-evil - but surely impractical communist - Soviet empire, it was hard to keep up with the happenings of those desolate lands. Now, I know that their leader is a typical despot in the Russian mold and that their economy lies in tatters but I wasn't about to say that. I was going to mention their hockey performance at the Olympics but that seemed trivial and lame. "Hey, you guys hung in their with your former puppet masters from Russia!" Bah. They would have hurled me through the window.

Anyway, after breaking them down with absolutely useless small talk we discovered that they do smile despite their light eyed, Conan-like forbidding looks. Each time they placed a piece or item they entertained with a quip or remark as they passed us by - while we, um, drank. We offered. We're not animals. And what's a day with fellow comrades without the typical political opinion?

Surely enough, one of the movers mumbled something about 'capitalism' and 'prostitution.'

I must confess, neither myself or my brother-in-law understood what he said but we laughed more at the stereotype characterization. All I can think of (I can't speak for my brother-in-law but knowing him he probably thought like me) were 'The Simpsons' and how they depicted Eastern European cartoons in one of their episodes. If you now what I mean that's scary. If not, well, too bad for you; it was hilarious. That's exactly how we picture those parts of the world. You know, brooding men on horses tanking some vodka while profiting from the oldest profession in a nearby tent operating as a cafe.

It all ended and none too soon. They did their jobs well. They were real workers. They earned a $30 tip.

Ah, capitalism; so, so, well evil?


From Ohio to Baghdad


The 60s: closer to garlic or green tea in taste? What's easier to digest to you? It's very hard to sit here and criticize a person and their opinions. Who knows what experiences people have had to form their world view? That's why it must be heard and respected. Yet, on the other hand, it can be so easy and entertaining to do so.

Neil Young is entitled to use his power and wealth to spread his anti-war (read anti-Bush) gospel and maybe earn some pennies in the process. He's earned it. Hey, he may even come up with a few good tunes in the process. Personally, I listen less to what they have to say politically anyway. I just don't think they are all that enlightening. But that's me. I would much rather read Vilfredo Pareto several times over than hear tired 'I love lady bugs anti-everything' lyrics.

I do have a problem, however, when celebrities call for the impeachment of a President. Why? For starters, their rhetoric usually completely disregards the historical and political American heritage. It's not often that I hear an artist and say to myself 'Hmmm. Good point.'

When I was 17 I could have been convinced. But now? At 34 and with all that I have experienced? Nah.

I apologize, but I'm (like most people) more rooted in reality than they are. Steve Earle is a great performer and musician - I watched him at Theatre St.Denis in Montreal in 1991 - but how credible is he to judge a President?

When carefully examined, Bush very much falls in line with traditional foreign policy doctrines from Thomas Jefferson (less so with TJ) to Andrew Jackson (more with AJ) to several Presidents in the 20th century (believe it or not, Woodrow Wilson). His goals are, well, familiar to the American experience. The weight on their shoulders, though, threatens to unravel.

Had these people - celebrities - actually studied American history (I'm sure some have but they aren't talking, it seems) they wouldn't be so frivolous and light with throwing around big words like impeachment. It's like how we call everyone a racist these days. We use it with such irresponsibility it threatens to lose all meaning. Proving that the President lied to the people would be a lot harder in court than most people care to admit. It's not so clear cut. Perhaps it's closer to libel against President Bush?

Look, I'm not looking to defend Bush. My point is it's a whole new pastime to chastise - right or wrong - these figures in public either for money or cheap laughs.

In any event, rock stars apparently have the clear sighted talent of seeing the big picture. Not so with Iraq. It seems as though they are not seeing the hopeful possibilities in that country. Maybe they should listen to the people of Iraq closer. But it's hard to listen when you are convinced of your beliefs. Call it musical fundamentalism. They continue to view and intellectualize contemporary times through a 1960s prism. Playing parallels with history is a fool's game indeed. In drawing analogies one has to have confidence in the premise that history unfolds in a predictable manner. In some cases it does and in others it manages to be deceptive.

The not-so revolutionary ideals revolution of the 60s failed for a reason. They were less rooted in the natural laws of world history and more of a showcase in narcissistic 'what ought to be' notions of baby boomers. Singing to impeach Bush is a right to free speech. If so, why has it become a question of censorship when we ask artists to account for their rationales? Or do they get a free pass because they are decades (supposedly) ahead of the rest of the population?

Now how do you match the haunting words of 'four dead in Ohio' with '3 dead in Baghdad? in a great million dollar song? Yes, the challenges - and ironies - of life.


Of American Standards and Culture

"Americans have no culture..." So goes the sophisticates snob theory. Yeah well, those persons - these culture connaisseurs - never listened to 'You Send Me' by Sam Cooke.

I have always had a problem with such notions. It is, by all reasonably informed accounts, an outright wrong assessment. Setting aside literature for a moment, American culture is grand on many scales.

It is, as an example, the culture of technology and innovation. Much has been made that America has been losing its technical prowess. Don't be fooled. America remains the beacon.

Put in proper historical context, I find an interesting analogy with Renaissance Italy. Both societies share a similar civilization in that they have been at the forefront of culture for centuries. Once upon a time it was Florence, Rome, Naples and Venice leading the charge. Today, America is led by Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and San Jose. During the Renaissance, all Europeans had to learn their craft or earn an education in Italy, just like how so many flock to the United States to learn in their institutions of higher learning.

Petrarch or Hemingway. Dante or Bellow. The University of Bologna or Stanford. The Wright Brothers or Da Vinci. Vivaldi or Bernstein. There is a familiar historical shared lineage there.

Speaking of music - which actually provoked this blog post - when listening to American music one is reminded of the depth of its culture. Listening to Ella Fitzgerald sing a Gershwin or Porter standard invokes natural beauty to which very few can reach. The Great American songbook is America's gift to the world. It is as American as, well, apple pie. Or a Hot Rod. Depending what you prefer.

It's not only the standards performed by numerous jazz immortals. The greatness of American music can be found anywhere. Bluegrass, blue-eyed soul, Motown, country, gospel, blues. The diversity of American music is proof enough of a heritage worth appreciating.

One last analogy. The men of genius who crafted the American standards are to music what the Forefathers were to the Declaration of Independence. America's culture is the defining one of modern human society. The great historian Pliny once said that it was useless for proud Athenians to resist the rise of Rome. Wise words to apply today regarding America. Enjoy it.


Happy Easter, nonetheless

Hey, I take issue with the use of the word 'happy' and 'Easter.' It infringes on my rights and offends me as a depressed atheist. I'm afraid I will have to report this, you spazz.

It's a tough, sad, mad, sensitive world which has lost all sense of balanced perspective. Happy Easter, nonetheless.


Say it isn't so Italia


Romano Prodi has declared an early victory in the Italian election that took place April 10. By all accounts it was an extremely close result. North Americans are not unaccustomed to this. In 2000, as it is famously known, the U.S. election was disputed between Al Gore and George W. Bush. In 1995, Canada came within absurd whiskers of breaking up during one of Quebec's frivolous referendums. Canada was preserved with barely 50% of the vote. So close, yet so far for some.

Romano Prodi is the leader of the L'Unione Party which is a coalition of centre left parties. The man once alleged to have been the KGB's 'man in Italy' is now the leader of an important economic power. It remains to be seen if magazines like The Economist will be chastising Prodi like they did Sylvio Berlusconi for his own alleged murky and corrupt past.

What about Berlusconi? Well, he's Italy's wealthiest businessman, possesses a vain leitmotif and most important was an ally of the United States. It serves no practical purpose to be anti-American - even in political jest.

What's unfortunate about Prodi's election is how it threatens what Berlusconi has built. He put Italy back on the political map. After decades (some would argue centuries) of political parochialism and indifference on the world stage, Italy had begun to emerge in a post 9/11 global network as an important country. Italy had always been an economic giant and a political midget. That was changing under Berlusconi.

With Prodi in the mix, government interventionism Italian style seems poised to make a comeback - and this is not good for Italy.

Berlusconi's arrogance may have not been appreciated but he stood up for Italy. So long belittled by its Northern neighbours, Berlusconi did not shy away from Northern power. He once told a German minister he looked like Col. Klink from Hogan's Heroes. The Germans demanded an apology but as one astute observer pointed out, "for centuries the Germans, English and French took liberties with Italy. One guy late in the 20th century shoots back and they demand an apology?" His alliance with the Americans also ruffled the intellectually (and morally?) bankrupted European socialist elite. The U.S. must be wondering about its interests as it now seems they are losing grip on a third important ally (Spain and Turkey are the other two who have become less cooperative.)

Things never seem what they appear to be in Italy. Italy is a modern society that has no problem with resorting to Renaissance style political games if need be. An artistic chameleon still searching for a voice. It is a land of sorrow dressed up in a brave and coy concept known as 'la dolce vita'.

Italians are a perplexing yet simplistic society that seems liberal on the surface but is deeply conservative. Orderly chaos masks the yearning of stable governance. In its absence Italy relies on the family as its prime institution. It is where rustic, beautiful Calabria still caught in a 12th century snap shot meets the shockingly breathtaking and influential Tuscany, and where the ugliness of the mafia stands in sharp contrast with Catholicism in the Vatican. They are the modern inventors and hub of western civilization yet Italy has foregone its roots as it wallows in steep contemporary cynicism prevalent in many societies. Italy can be both divine and repulsive to an outsider, yet it overwhelms all. Lastly, Italy is proof that an ambiguous life and disjointed existence can produce such a precious country.

Berlusconi -in all his imperfections and character flaws - is what Italy needed. Prodi is a return to a past that failed it. Will Italy ever be a driver of history again?


Farmers: The Oldest Profession Is Not Evolving Gracefully

Oldest according to Les Nessman of WKRP anyway.

'The crops we grew last summer weren't enough to pay the loans. Couldn't buy the seed to plant this spring and the Farmers Bank foreclosed. Called my old friend Schepman up to auction off the land. He said John it's just my job and I hope you understand. Hey callin' it your job ol' hoss sure don't make it right. But if you want me to I'll say a prayer for your soul tonight.' John Mellencamp, 'Rain on the Scarecrow' 1985.

The extent of my knowledge about farming and agriculture is about as firm as Michael Moore's grasp of American (not to mention Canadian given his meddling in Canadian affairs during our election. Oddly, he chastises American foreign policy for being interventionist but it's fine when he does it? I digress) history and politics - firm as a wilted and jaded flower that is.

For years, I ignored the great farming debate in North America. It was simply as intriguing as changing a baby's soaked diaper. Not even when my favorite singer - John Cougar Mellencamp - organized Farm Aid in the 1980s did it sway my interest. So when Rex Murphy host of 'Cross Country Checkup' (one of the rare call in shows where all guests and callers are educated and knowledgeable) chose this issue recently I looked at my wife and said "there isn't anything more boring to listen to on the radio than labour relations and farming - and my blog." Ding!

But I didn't ignore this time around. The reason I didn't was because no matter how irrelevant a subject may seem, I'm sufficiently curious enough to try and learn something new. As it turns out, I don't regret not changing the channel for it was a thoroughly engaging discussion.

One of the biggest issue is subsidies. As a personal guiding principle, I oppose government funds to prop up industries under protectionist barriers.

Well, that's the crux of the debate and I haven't a clue what the answer is. Economics don't seem to be on the side of the farmers either. They seem to be out of touch with reality - good or bad. The ultimate irony is that the strong work ethics and family values exhibited by farmers has not translated into a sustainable business - thus pretty much killing off the family farm. Pop culture yearns for these values but refute it when it comes to ratings.

Romantic notions are nothing new in contemporary times. Modernity always looks back to a supposed more pristine era. We look back on Natives as being peaceful and spiritual tribes while conveniently overlooking that they too had human vices similar to our own. It's the same with the farmers.

There is no doubt part of the trouble arises with an indifferent public. Our culture does not appreciate food enough to care whether a chicken was grain fed and raised on a farm or mechanically processed in squalor. Or that certain rules of cooking should be observed. Just because you like ketchup doesn't mean you have to put it on everything. Not all olive oil is the same etc. We're no longer close to our food when we go purchase it. Very few people head to the farms or outdoor markets to shop. It's all about frozen packaged convenience now. All that is argued here is that if we did take diet seriously -as they do in Italy and to a lesser extent in France - we'd probably pay closer attention to farmers and their plight.

Schepman had a job. If he didn't do it how was that fair to anyone? His soul would have been blackened if he didn't keep a responsibility to his work however grievous (or repugnant to some) it may have been. The farm is a dying breed and this is unfortunate. It will take more than government intervention to save it. It will take a radical reeducation of people to make them learn to appreciate one of history's oldest and most crucial enterprises.


Saturday Night Film Comment

I know, I'm 11 and 46 years too late to offer my perspective on 'Waiting for Guffman' and 'The Magnificent Seven.' I don't suppose being born in 1972 is a good excuse?

Nonetheless, these are the most recent movies I have seen and compelled I was to write about them. First up, Guffman.

Maybe the mokumentary thing is the 'soupe du jour' for the comedy genre, but is there anyone out there that does it better than Christopher Guest? 'Spinal Tap' (directed by Rob Reiner), 'Best in Show' and 'A Mighty Wind' are part of Guest's repertoire and each one a consistent deliverer of sublime humour - if not pure hilarity. It's hard to tag the word 'genius' to anything (it's so hard to determine what is genius, right? Except if you're Oprah. She seems to believe she cornered that market), but Guest is as close to deserving it as anybody. In any event, what matters is who does the genre best, and Guest is among the most prolific.

The usual suspects were present in Guffman. Canadian SCTV alumni duo Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara star in the film, as does the under-rated Fred Willard. The cast consists of several 'I know that face' actors (such as Larry Miller and Don Lake) and manages to show new dimensions to their craft. Without getting into the details of the plot - though I will say watching Corky St.Clair do his Cockney dialect is worth a million dollars on its own - it's enough to scream 'rent' this film. It really is that funny, with a thick undercurrent of dark humor added. Behind the laughs are people who define lost hopes and dreams.

The thing that captured me about the second film I watched, 'The Magnificent Seven', is that in these cynical times, where moral equivalence defines our value system, this film provided some shivers in its straightforward exploration of good versus evil. Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen made you believe that -for a price of course - being good is beyond the realm of cool.

Everyone wants to believe that somewhere their lurks the supreme being that will defend all things pure; usually that person is thought to be Jesus (insert your faith here) or God. But in pop culture, The Bat-Man, Spider Man, Super Man (and to a lesser extent. Green Lantern and Captain Marvel) are the preservers and defenders of justice, liberty and altruism. In a larger sense, people in servitude or under the thumbs of a terrorizing dictator, all pray for America to step in and save the day. Like it or not, America is the Bat-Man of mother earth.

Adapted from the Japanese classic the 'Seven Samurai,' the M7 are a collection of American cowboys and mavericks (an all-star cast which included the great Eli Wallach, Charles Bronson, Robert Vaughn and James Colburn) who set out to help Mexican peasants brutalized by a local rogue bandit Calvera played by Wallach. While watching it, I could not help but wonder if The A-Team (in fact, George Peppard could have been easily been cast as one of the M7. Interestingly, Robert Vaughn would eventually become a cast member on the show) was a crude borrower of this film. It was very easy to root for the good guys.

For me, this film restores the concept that some things are just worth fighting for...bastard people.


The Day Rick Monday Told Us The Truth

I was nine years-old when Rick Monday hit that sickening home run off Steve Rogers on that cold, dreary day in 1981. It was by far one of the most momentous moments in Canadian sports history. Montrealers are literally still in shock.

It still haunts me. The electricity that covered the city that year is often recalled in loving nostalgia. I ran from school to watch the last three innings. I was convinced the Expos were going to win. Ray Burris pitched very well that day and Steve Rogers came in relief.

At the time we could not know it but that hom erun - by Rick Monday - proved to be an omen for things to come. It was also a moment that defined and stigmatized the franchise. The Toronto Blue Jays had Joe Carter's marvelous home run, the Expos had....Rick Monday.

Rick Monday changed baseball in the big Mtl. that day. Throughout the 80s the Expos had great teams and superbly talented players - they were the Organization of the 80s according to Baseball America - but never could quite get over that hump. If it was not the Cardinals, it was the Pirates always getting in the way. But the hope never died.

But in retrospect, it does seem as though Rick Monday blackened our souls that day. We never could shake 'the curse.'

I've come to terms with the loss of the Expos. I don't buy into the prevailing reasons why this happened. All are excuses. We let ourselves down. Jeffrey Loria was not the problem but merely the result or symptom of a wider problem in this city. While we pointed figures like children at Selig, Samson, Brochu, Vishnu - whomever - we never stopped to think that we laid the foundations for a Loria to come in and do what he did.

Forget all that. Some in the media may still cling to false notions about our demise, but I suffer no such delusions. Rick Monday was not an illusion. They say things happen for a reason. Well, maybe at the heart of it, Montrealers did not deserve the Montreal Expos.


Sports Comments: D-fense!, Nike, Darcy Tucker, Dominique Wilkins, AC Milan

-The hatred for defensive teams tends to reach irrational levels some times. We see this with soccer fans. Even fans who should know better tend to speak with derision about defensive oriented clubs. Personally, I have no problems with a team that plays defense first. If played properly, defense is a great thing to watch. Whether it be the Baltimore Ravens, New Jersey Devils, Detroit Pistons, a baseball team with strong pitching or Italy who once played catenaccio (chain defense) in soccer, defense is an art form in itself. Some people like parity. I happen to think parity sucks. I prefer dynasties. Call me elitist.

-That new and scary Nike soccer guy (former soccer star Eric Cantona) demands the return of 'boca jonito' (Portuguese for beautiful game) looks more like a heroin dealer for the Colombians or Calabrians. He scares me.

-I guess the new 'My NHL' learned precious little from the Bertuzzi incident after all. The league made a huge error by not suspending Toronto Maple Leafs forwards Darcy Tucker and his Mapled Ass.

Tucker wears his heart on his sleeve but this thing of trying to take people's heads off with an elbow is outrageous. Even more repugnant is how hockey experts didn't think he deserved anything. I know, I know, I'm a 'non-essential' as one hockey genius once called someone for having an opinion. Maybe. But I know a dirty hit when I see one - I tore my ACL as a result of a knee on knee. It angers me to watch players go down in this manner. 'Part of the game' and 'you'd love to have him on your team' my butt. I've always hated players like that in the locker room. If Tucker had connected with Johann Hecht's head (Buffalo Sabres) we may have a Todd Bertuzzi case all over. Lindy Ruff is 100% right. The NHL, hockey experts and Tucker apologists are 100% wrong. End of debate. Plus ça change...

-I saw that Dominique Wilkins (along with Charles Barkley and Joe Dumars) was inducted into the basketball hall of fame. I'm not the biggest NBA fan -the league that has gun-toting coolsters and rap singers who happen to play basketball.

I remember how electrifying Wilkins (remember Spud Webb?) was with the Atlanta Hawks. Everyone laments how the Bird-Johnson-Irving trio has never been replaced but I seem to recall Wilkins being every bit a special player. He was one of the original stylish - along with Jordan of course - slam dunkers.

-Last but not least, a dream semi-final in the Champions League final has six time champions AC Milan and Barcelona - who has one title - squaring off. The last time these two titans met was in the final in 1994 when Milan trounced Barcelona 4-0. Incidentally, that Milan edition was easily among the greatest teams in history. This is the rematch and fans can't wait. The other semi has Arsenal facing Villareal; two teams very few selected to be here. The Milan/Barcelona should be an intense but classy, elegant affair filled with beautiful soccer.

A quick word about Internazionale's defender Marco Matterazzi; I still can't figure out why this guy is playing pro soccer. His classless, dirty play is worthy of, well, a Darcy Tucker award.


Immigration is the new buzz word in the U.S.

"...The group says it plans similar exercises along the border in California, New Mexico and Texas, and along the Canadian border in Washington, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York state..."

The Group being 'The Minutemen.' Are they really?

The 12 million Mexican illegal immigrants working in the United States actually do provide an economic service to both countries. They - being legislators- should hammer out a special and enlightened deal to reflect the reality that Mexicans want to come and work (and possible live) in the U.S. That said, I don't agree that Americans -their hosts - should be made to feel guilty so as to allow illegals to bypass existing laws. It was interesting to note some Mexicans marching were carrying Mexican flags.

As for the Vermont border - hilarious. I go through New York and Vermont often. Don't know who they're going to protect Americans from up here. Vermont/New York/Quebec/Ontario relations are as solid and friendly as it can be. Yup, those Quebecers are running rampant.

I thought militant Arab terrorists were the problem.


Sports Comment: Montreal Expos, Michael Jordan and sweatshops, Curt Flood

-Baseball season is once again upon us and the departure of the Montreal Expos still annoys me. As I looked over projected line ups, I was reminded of how much this team is missed.

-I heard the following comment about whether athletes should be sensitive to social activism on a Toronto sports show: "Michael Jordan could have wielded his power to shut down sweat shops ...."

We really should try to make an effort to not look at things strictly from a first world perspective. To us, paying someone wages that are way below our standards for a days work not seen since the Industrial Revolution may seem outrageous. Contemplating it from a worker's - in Malaysia for instance - prism however should reveal a different angle.

For them, it's a chance for economic progress; pure and simple. Yes it modernization has its ugly side and the cost of living in these places are low.

On the other hand, the wages paid allow for them to provide for their families - through the purchase of medicine or food etc. Not to mention security and stability. With time, as is the case with all maturing economies - standards and wages will improve and increase. The people, for the most part, are grateful for such an opportunity - as are their governments. It's not pretty (especially to us) but they have to start somewhere.

Michael Jordan 'did not stop it' because basic economic theory and evolution would not allow him to even attempt it. Besides, he would have to answer to all the families who would lose their jobs. Not that we 'socially compassionate' Westerners would care. Let those economies go through the cycles and the pain that comes with it like we did.

- The modern athlete discussion had me thinking about Curt Flood, the tides of history and how people deal with such issues. Could you imagine Tiger Woods ever remotely considering a decision based on principles as Flood did? Heck, Woods won't dare give an opinion on anything not cleared with his PR team. These guys are mini-empires and they need to protect their assets. It's understandable. If this is so, let's stop interviewing them because they have nothing of relevance to say. It really is painful to listen to them. Man, buy them a personality. May as well talk to a cardboard cut-out of Alex Rodriquez. More importantly, stop using the race card.

Flood challenged the myth that governed baseball for a century and the O'Malley's of this world who profited from it. Like 'Ball Four' he essentially exposed the dark side of a human construct that captivated the people. Fans, much like today, just don't want to believe that baseball can be corrupted. As if Jefferson's yeomen ideals are still attainable.

Flood came from a typical socio-economic background for a black athlete and was primed for a 60s style social crusade against baseball's 'economic plantation' system; if this does not sound like Garland Jeffries in 'Don't Call me Buckwheat' I don't know what does. He eventually lost but no one could deny that, while black listed (white listed?), his troubles opened future ball players to gigantic contracts. But Flood challenged Camelot and at the time he was vilified.

It reminds me of an episode on The Simpsons about how Springfield was founded on a myth and a lie. Baseball is part myth, part business. Despite this, it still manages to be a symbol for things as they ought to be. In this light, Americans see a pristine tradition in the sport that reminds them of what they should strive for. Cartoons; is there anything we can't learn from them?

No one can afford to engage in this sort of stuff today. Of course blacks should be grateful to Flood but how many actually know about him? Indeed, Latinos should be a little more community oriented (as Felipe Alou who lived in my hometown of Laval a suburb of Montreal) but gosh darn it these guys earn 50 times the average salary! There's no time for any of this nonsense with 'beaver' season in high gear! The family breakdown (and to a certain extent the loss of religious faith) has as much to do with this as greed. I'll settle for a King Arthur to just bring a sense of perspective back into our moral equations.

I'll leave with two quotes: One is found on my site - "All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident." Schopenhauer.

The second - "The Noble spirit embiggens the smallest man." Jebediah Springfield.