You know that you are in a different stage of life when the first fifteen minutes of a semi-annual lunch with old friends begins with a bionic update. “I’m still playing hockey even though I had my knee replaced” or “my hip replacement wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be”. Then of course there is that painful search for “what’s his name’, you know, he was in Bar Ads with us and went on to be CEO of X.” Only the willfully blind refuse to recognize that our hourglasses are well beyond their meridian. Next comes the moment of shared fear, “have I told you I had my kidney stones out, but did I mention that I put it off for over a year because I was afraid of the impact of the anesthetic on my heart”. Oh for the joys of this next stage of our pilgrimage into unknowing! Finally there comes the references to this or that obituary, “did you read about Jane’s death? how old was she?, and what ever happened to her sister Susan?” Of course there are many among us who do not want to know any of this, who do not want to be reminded, who carry their own fears and limitations like a Hindu ascetic. But who do they think they are really kidding? Don’t they realize everyone knows just by looking at or listening to them, and that they are hiding things only from themselves. Bah humbug on Mooney and all his works!
This week I attended a small diner at which Garry Kasparov spoke. Remember him, he was the World Champion and Chess-master at the age of 22 who then went on to try to run against Putin for President of Russia. Kasparov was born in Baku, his birth name is Weinstein, and like his prophetic fore-bearers, he screams out to anyone who will listen that when you think about Putin, you should remember Hitler in 1935. To say he painted a depressing picture would be an understatement. He may not despise Obama, but almost, and he did not mince words. The diner was held at Grano, a small Italian bistro in mid town Toronto where the food is usually good, but the Kasparov lecture only brought on nausea. Unless things change, he predicts the fall of the rest of the Ukraine, then Georgia, and even unto Latvia and Estonia. While we focus on ISIS, the East falls apart. To my surprise he informed all of us present that Putin has absolute power, and unlike his predecessors from Stalin to Gorbachev, there is no Central Committee to reign him in.
So happy Sunday!