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Peter Worthington: Cliff Diver


Peter and his granddaughter

This story of Peter Worthington's surfaced in my memory this morning, I first heard it years ago.

As a young boy, Pete had been very afraid of heights. He set out to conquer this fear by learning to dive and succeeded in becoming a very accomplished diver. (We have a photo of him in his mid-50s diving off the cliffs at Acapulco, Mexico.)

In 1945, Pete was serving as a new lieutenant aboard a Canadian warship (a destroyer if I remember right). Early in the voyage, he decided to start the day with a sea bathe. He had the bright idea of diving off the ship's tower. He climbed to the top, looked over the ocean, and realized that it was higher over the water than he'd expected. Much too high. He began back away from the edge. At just that moment he was seen from below by two seaman. "Look! Lieutenant Worthington is going to dive!"

He realized: there was no decent retreat. He returned to the edge, thought "I'm going to break my neck - what a stupid way to die," and dove. When he hit the water, the jolt was so hard that he thought he had broken his neck. He survived, and from then on was something of a hero on the ship.


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Sorry, fellow young men, but your health insurance is about to get significantly more expensive. CNN reports:

Currently insurers can charge premiums based on gender. Men usually pay less than women, since they typically visit the doctor less frequently. The Affordable Care Act, however, doesn't allow insurers to charge different rates to men and women. Taken together, men ages 25 to 36 could see rate increases greater than 50%, according to Milliman's O'Connor, but women of the same age will only see their premiums creep up 4%. Meanwhile, men age 60 to 64 could see their premiums drop by 12%.

Cool Guy

Peter Worthington's Self Obituary

As promised, here is a link to Peter Worthington's self written obituary, published in today's Toronto Sun

If you are reading this, I am dead.

How’s that for a lead?

Guarantees you read on, at least for a bit.


The Cost of Amnesty


Steven Camarota writes at National Review on why Heritage gets the most important details right:

Probably the main argument of critics is that the economic benefits we gain from having access to immigrant labor will offset the fiscal costs. There is simply no evidence for this. The National Research Council study mentioned above, which was authored by many of the leading economists in the field, is the only study of which I am aware that tried to measure both the economic impact and the fiscal impact of all immigrants. That study found that the economic gain to the native-born from all immigrants was smaller than the fiscal drain created by all immigrant households. And that finding was for all immigrants, not only illegal immigrants, who have on average just ten years of schooling.

Justice has been served. Toss him in prison, and never speak his name again. 


Concern-Trolling Mitch McConnell


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While rather uncharitable, Isaac Chotiner's profile of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in the latest print version of the New Republic (not yet available online unless you're a subscriber) is an illuminating read... until you reach the final paragraph, where Chotiner sneers at McConnell's admiration of Henry Clay:

McConnell once said admirably of Henry Clay, "The compromises that he brought about probably pushed the Civil War off, first the one in 1820, then the one in 1850." This is the definition of short-term thinking. Today, we don't remember the Civil War being "pushed off" - we remember that, as Abraham Lincoln said, the war came. For his part, Obama will be remembered as a two-term president who won reelection in an ailing economy and who passed a law providing access to health care for all Americans. McConnell's claim to the historical legacy he once yearned for might lie, ironically, in having made Obama's possible.

Put it this way: if the Civil War had been fought in 1820, not only would the Union have failed to abolish slavery in the south, but it's doubtful we'd have a Union today. Those morally reprehensible compromises bought the time for the north to industrialize and gain the wealth required to win a long civil war. For that, I thank Sen. Clay, even as we should simultaneously condemn every action that allowed the perpetuation of chattel slavery.

Those terrible compromises did their job, even if they received much deserved derision at the time and in historical accounts. Thus, in the process of laughing at what he deems McConnell's short term thinking, Chotiner reveals some poorly thought out historical thinking of his own.


Peter Worthington Cut His Own Hair

This Peter Worthington column appeared in the Huffington Post on July 25, 2012.

I was chatting with the National Post's Andrew Coyne and a bunch of others at a party last weekend, and he mentioned a column I'd written for the old Financial Post that drew more response than anything the paper had experienced at that time.

I couldn't remember, and thought it might have been about my dogs -- all Jack Russells, which I get teased about at the Sun because I occasionally suggest good reporters should emulate JRs: curious, fearless, relentless, fun and smart -- but not too smart.

But no, Andrew was thinking of an early column I'd written about cutting my own hair, that provoked a huge, unexpected response.


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From my CNN column: why those rushing to bash the Heritage Foundation study keep forgetting that math is math:

A decade ago, Britain's Labor government was badly divided over whether to join the Euro. The prime minister strongly supported the idea, as did much of the British business community and many leading media voices. One of the proponents' most effective tactics was to ridicule opponents as cranky and xenophobic -- even borderline racist.

Here for example is a correspondent for the Guardian deriding some of them, members of the U.K. Independence Party (Ukip), back, in 2004.

"In the pub I encounter Reg Mahrra, an Indian Ukipper . 'I want out of Europe,' he says. 'Europe is a disease.' "

This Peter Worthington column was first published in the Toronto Sun on June 11, 2011.


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TORONTO - Raccoons are in the news again, following the beating of a litter of the critters with a shovel.

While some sympathy is expressed for the guy whose frustration with the furry bandits led him to take direct action against them — and got him charged with cruelty — the incident has provoked others to register their helplessness in dealing with raccoons.


Peter Worthington, 1927-2013


Peter Worthington, with Canadian Forces in Afghanistan.

The wide-angle film of the scene in the basement of the Dallas police station on November 24, 1963, captures on the far left of the camera an unusually handsome man leaning against the station wall. Suddenly shots ring out: Jack Ruby has fired upon Lee Harvey Oswald. And the camera shows that man at far left abruptly snapping to attention and running toward the shots.

That man was my father-in-law, Peter Worthington, and running toward the shots was his characteristic response to danger of every kind. Over his amazing career, he served first in World War II (gaining accreditation, in his phrase, as the youngest and arguably least competent flight lieutenant in the whole Canadian navy) and then for three years in Korea. He became Canada's best known war correspondent, covering conflicts up and down the length of Africa, in the high Himalayas on the Indo-China frontier, in the Middle East, and Southeast Asia. He launched his own newspaper in 1971, the Toronto Sun, the last profitable daily ever started in North America. He was the only Canadian ever prosecuted under the country's Official Secrets Act - not for betraying secrets, but for embarrassing the government of the day by documenting its own disregard of Soviet espionage activities inside Canada. He ran twice for Parliament in the early 1980s, and although he lost, his campaigns set in motion the train of events that brought down the Conservative Party's ineffectual leader Joe Clark and opened the way for Brian Mulroney to win the smashing Conservative victory of 1984. He continued his adventures till late life, traveling with Canadian forces in Afghanistan in his late seventies and publishing his interviews with Canada's most notorious serial killer, Clifford Olson, only last year.

A gifted athlete and a shrewd businessman, Peter Worthington excelled at everything he did. He seemed beyond ordinary human weakness: He suffered a heart attack thirty years ago and was saved by a bypass operation. He filed a series of columns for the Sun detailing his operation, and within a very few weeks afterward, celebrated his recovery by climbing China's Mount Gonga.

Yet time catches up with even the most indestructible men. Peter had been weakening for some time, and on Thursday, May 2 he suffered an abrupt health crisis. He was taken to Toronto General Hospital where the doctors who had held him together for three decades confessed they could do no more. Over the next week, he entertained his three children and six grandchildren with his famous gallows humor. A week later, he said his last goodbyes, commanded "no tears," and lost consciousness.

Did you hear about how the proposed immigration reform bill will create, in the words of the headline writers at Wired, a "Biometric Database of All Adult Americans"?

The idea of the government creating a massive biometric database for virtually all adult Americans is indeed terrifying, and if the story was true, would be cause for genuine outrage.

Fortunately, Wired's assertion is false. Here are the facts:




Do Make Fun of Dan Brown

This takedown of super famous author Dan Brown is so funny I cried:

Renowned author Dan Brown smiled, the ends of his mouth curving upwards in a physical expression of pleasure. He felt much better. If your books brought innocent delight to millions of readers, what did it matter whether you knew the difference between a transitive and an intransitive verb?

“Thanks, John,” he thanked. Then he put down the telephone and perambulated on foot to the desk behind which he habitually sat on a chair to write his famous books on an Apple iMac MD093B/A computer. New book Inferno, the latest in his celebrated series about fictional Harvard professor Robert Langdon, was inspired by top Italian poet Dante. It wouldn’t be the last in the lucrative sequence, either. He had all the sequels mapped out. The Mozart Acrostic. The Michelangelo Wordsearch. The Newton Sudoku.

The 190lb adult male human being nodded his head to indicate satisfaction and returned to his bedroom by walking there. Still asleep in the luxurious four-poster bed of the expensive $10 million house was beautiful wife Mrs Brown. Renowned author Dan Brown gazed admiringly at the pulchritudinous brunette’s blonde tresses, flowing from her head like a stream but made from hair instead of water and without any fish in. She was as majestic as the finest sculpture by Caravaggio or the most coveted portrait by Rodin. I like the attractive woman, thought the successful man.

The IRS and the Tea Party

The Latest 'Brown Scare'


Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Read Ross Douthat on the overhyped fears about the Tea Party and how such sentiments probably contributed to the IRS targeting conservative and libertarian groups for unfair scrutiny:

Even though an American Civil Liberties Union official described their excessive interest in right-wing groups as “about as constitutionally troubling as it gets,” the bureaucrats in question probably thought they were just doing their patriotic duty, and giving dangerous extremists the treatment they deserved.

Where might an enterprising, public-spirited I.R.S. agent get the idea that a Tea Party group deserved more scrutiny from the government than the typical band of activists seeking tax-exempt status? Oh, I don’t know: why, maybe from all the prominent voices who spent the first two years of the Obama era worrying that the Tea Party wasn’t just a typically messy expression of citizen activism, but something much darker — an expression of crypto-fascist, crypto-racist rage, part Timothy McVeigh and part Bull Connor, potentially carrying a wave of terrorist violence in its wings.

It’s not just bomb-making instructions and Daniel Pearl murder videos that you can find online. Joining them now is the world’s first downloadable gun.

Meet Cody Wilson, a law student at the University of Texas, who posted downloadable blueprints for a plastic handgun onto a server in New Zealand. The handgun’s components can then be “printed” and assembled by anyone, anywhere with access to 3D-printing technology. Three-dimensional printers create shapes out of sheets of plastic. At present, those printers are very expensive, but undoubtedly not for long.

Great Divergence

Inequality from Immigration

Something to ponder this weekend from Timothy Noah's book, The Great Divergence

It would be rash to conclude that immigration's impact on low-wage workers in the United States is a problem in the process of solving itself. It would also be rash to conclude that immigration is poised to do to more skilled workers what it has already done to high school dropouts. For the moment, all we can conclude with certainty is that although immigration has helped create income inequality during the past three decades, it isn't the star of the show. "If you were to list the five or six main things" that caused the Great Divergence, [Harvard professor George] Borjas told me, "what I would say is [that immigration is] a contributor. Is it the most important contributor? No."

(pp 73-74)

About the Author

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David Frum

David Frum is a contributing editor at The Daily Beast and a CNN contributor. He is the author of eight books, including most recently the e-book WHY ROMNEY LOST and his first novel Patriots, published in April 2012.

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