Leaving the maelstrom for a while is also useful for setting life in a useful context. That useful context: that most of the people who work in journalism and in politics are lunatics — myself included. I spent a lovely two weeks with my family swimming, going out to eat, taking boat rides, visiting amusement parks and museums, playing golf, watching movies, hanging out at the beach, chatting about sports, and then I came back to The Internet and was told almost immediately that the United States was on the edge of a civil war. This is absolute nonsense, and if you meet anyone who tells you this in the wild, you should kindly ask them to log off and go spend some time in physical America, where people disagree profoundly on some pretty important questions but simply do not talk or think in the way that people do on social media or on cable news or on the opinion pages of our major newspapers.

— Charles C.W. Cooke, “Just Log Off


As our mind is strengthened by communication with vigorous and orderly minds, so it is impossible to say how much it loses and degenerates by our continual association and frequentation with mean and sickly minds. There is no contagion that spreads like that one. I know by enough experience how much it is worth by yard. I love to argue and discuss, but in a small group and for my own sake. For to serve as a spectacle to the great and make a competitive parade of one’s wit and chatter is an occupation that I find very unbecoming to a man of honor.

— Montaigne, “On the Art of Conversation”