Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Reflections on Idealism


On this October day, I present to you, for your edification, some thoughts and reflections on the subject of idealism. 


Ideals are like the stars; you will not succeed in touching them with your hands.  But like the seafaring man on the desert of waters, you choose them as your guides, and following them you will reach your destiny.

- Carl Schurz
Address, Faneuil Hall, Boston (April 18, 1859)

When they come downstairs from their Ivory Towers, idealists are apt to walk straight into the gutter.

- Logan Pearsall Smith
From Afterthoughts {1931}

An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it is also more nourishing.

- H. L. Mencken
From A Little Book in C Major, page 19 (1916)

It's really a wonder that I haven't dropped all my ideals because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet, I keep them, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can't build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery, and death. I see the world gradually being turned into a wilderness, I hear the ever-approaching thunder, which will destroy us too, I can feel the sufferings of millions and yet, if I look up into the heavens, I think that it will all come right, that this cruelty too will end, and that peace and tranquility will return again.

- Anne Frank
From her diary

An idealist believes the short run doesn't count.  A cynic believes the long run doesn't matter.  A realist believes that what is done or left undone in the short run determines the long run.

- Sidney J. Harris, in his column Thoughts at Large for the Chicago Sun-Times


This is the anniversary of “Black Monday.” October 19, 1987 was a nightmarish day for stock markets around the world as they plunged to record losses. It can be described as one of the most infamous days in recent financial history. The Dow Jones dropped a record 508 points, a 22.6% decline.  That 22.6% far surpassed the 12.8% drop of October 28, 1929 which ushered in the Great Depression. In fact, the 1987 “Black Monday” decline was the largest one-day percentage decline in stock market history.

That stock market crash of 23 years ago put an end to the great years of prosperity in the 1980s.  It marked the end of a five-year bull market and was a prelude to the terrible recession of the early 1990s.  Click on the link below to watch a video of a CBC news report on “Black Monday.”


On October 19, 1981, Rick Monday of the Los Angeles Dodgers broke the hearts of Montreal Expos fans and Canadian baseball fans everywhere. Monday hit a ninth-inning home run to give the Dodgers to a 2-1 victory over the Expos and the National League pennant. I remember watching that home run and sharing in the disappointment with my co-workers at the Toronto Star.

The now-defunct Expos never came closer to an appearance in the World Series although they had a really good team in 1994 and could have won it all that year. Pedro Martinez, Larry Walker, Moises Alou and Marquis Grissom were on that 1994 team. Not a bad collection of talent, eh? Fate intervened, however, in the form of a Major League Baseball strike. There was no World Series that year and we’ll never know what would have happened. Regrettably, the Expos never seemed to recover and departed from Montreal after the 2004 season.



The New York Yankees didn’t play like champions last night. Much to the dismay of the patrons of the Bronx Zoo, the Yanks were walloped by the upstart Texas Rangers in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series. The score was 8-0 for Texas who had their ace, Cliff Lee, on the mound. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t want the Yanks to win the World Series again, so I’m quite happy with that result.

Texas has a 2-1 lead in the series. However, I won’t count the Pinstripes out just yet.  It's too early for that, even though I think they had a better team last year.  Tonight they will send former Blue Jay A.J. Burnett to the mound.


After four straight wins, The Toronto Maple Leafs tasted defeat for the first time this season. They were defeated by the gritty New York Islanders at the Air Canada Centre last night. It was an overtime loss, so they still picked up a point. In the third period, Phil Kessel of the Leafs tied the game 1-1. It went into overtime. The Leafs were penalized for goaltender interference and John Tavares scored a power play goal for the Islanders. The Leafs lost 2-1 in overtime.

- Joanne