Nobody takes Paul the Octopus seriously. We're too clever for that.
As most of the planet knows by now, Paul the Octopus, the star attraction at an aquarium in Oberhausen, Germany, was asked to "predict" the outcome of Germany's matches at the World Cup by choosing between two boxes placed in his tank. One box bore the flag of Germany; the other, the flag of Germany's opponent. Inside each box was a tasty mussel. Paul's first stop for a snack determined the winner.
Paul went eight-for-eight, including correctly picking Spain to beat the Netherlands in the final. He even nailed Serbia's upset win over Germany in the opening round.
A few years ago in Moscow, I interviewed Edward Limonov, novelist and leader of the National Bolsheviks, a banned political party mostly famous for their party banner -- identical to the flag of Nazi Germany, but with the hammer and sickle in place of the swastika. I expected a vivid display of crazy. I got something much more interesting.
Formally, the National Bolsheviks, which Limonov founded, are the ideological blend of ultra-nationalism and communism their banner suggests. But that's misleading. Limonov's politics have shifted as often and as dramatically as the weather. He has even made common cause with Gary Kasparov's pro-Western liberals.
John de Chastelain, the acclaimed general and diplomat, said something enormously important last week when he responded to rumours that he would be the next governor general. It's not on, said de Chastelain, who will be 73 in July. He's too old. "It would be appropriate to have someone younger and perhaps with better qualifications than mine," de Chastelain told the Globe and Mail.
Discount that bit about qualifications. The accomplishments expected of a governor general have been declining for a generation and de Chastelain's résumé towers over that of any recent occupant of Rideau Hall. But he is indeed almost 73. And he is far from alone in thinking that makes him too old.
Which is a problem for all of us. A big problem.