Nota Bene

A Pen Mightier Than The Sword

Aleksander Solzhenitsyn, the Nobel Prize-winning author of The Gulag Archipelago has died at 89. His influence helped foster in the end of the Soviet empire and the dawn of a new age of freedom. His willingness to speak out against the evils of the Soviet system helped forge the moral case against Communism.

Nearly every artist seems to claim to “speak truth to power”—and most of the time it is more about stroking their egos. Aleksander Solzhenitsyn actually did speak truth to power, and in so doing changed the world.



Tony Snow

Former White House Press Secretary and commentator Tony Snow has passed away from cancer at the age of 53.


Snow was truly one of a kind, someone who could operate in Washington yet never seeming to share in the cynicism that runs through the town. His optimism, his courage in facing cancer, and his amazing talent made him a truly irreplaceable man.

Kathryn Jean-Lopez of National Review says it with heartbreaking eloquence:

As for the rest of us, Tony Snow talks in that interview about “a depth of happiness” that cancer made possible in his life — he became closer to his wife, his family, being forced to think about the eternal things in a new way. The rest of us ought to sign off of our computers, turn the Blackberry off, and be with our loved ones — totally present — living this day as if it might be your last.

“God put us on earth to help each other,” Snow told Gregory. Consider these days of reflection on the example of Tony Snow as his help to all of us.

“When you die, you graduate,” Snow told Gregory. Happy Graduation Day.


Farewell George Carlin

Comedy legend George Carlin died at the age of 71.

Carlin was one-of-a-kind. Anyone can be raunchy, but Carlin was the rarest combination: raunchy, but smart. His barbs were pointed, and they always hit their target.

As he once observed:

The most unfair thing about life is the way it ends. I mean, life is tough. It takes up a lot of your time. What do you get at the end of it? A Death! What’s that, a bonus? I think the life cycle is all backwards. You should die first, get it out of the way. Then you live in an old age home. You get kicked out when you’re too young, you get a gold watch, you go to work. You work forty years until you’re young enough to enjoy your retirement. You do drugs, alcohol, you party, you get ready for high school. You go to grade school, you become a kid, you play, you have no responsibilities, you become a little baby, you go back into the womb, you spend your last nine months floating …and you finish off as an orgasm.

George Carlin may not have gone out that way, but he certainly had one hell of a life.


Charlton Heston, RIP

Award-winning actor Charlton Heston passed away yesterday at the age of 84. From Ben Hur to Planet of the Apes, Heston was a Hollywood legend and an actor who could always be counted on to play larger-than-life characters.

Not only was he a great actor, but he was a tireless campaigner for human rights, from marching with Martin Luther King, Jr to campaigning for the rights of gun owners as president of the NRA.

Mitch Berg has a wonderful memorial to Heston’s life and career.