Every now and then, a situation arises in which seemingly disparate elements come together in perfect unison, like some cosmic Venn diagram. If you haven’t seen this on elementary school homework lately, it’s a diagram invented by John Venn in 1880 using overlapping circles to illustrate logical relations between a finite collection of sets.
It could be that day your schedule works out perfectly with three successive appointments all being right next to each other, or receiving a sample of car air freshener on the day both your boys decide to take their shoes off in the car after a long hot day, or noticing that several news stories all relate to a common theme. (Although I must admit, the car air freshener was wishful thinking — any parent of teenagers can probably relate.)
Last week’s news provided that perfect convergence for New York Times-subscribing opinionated liberal musical humorists who write for a site advocating bipartisanship, who are embarrassed by how rarely they tackle international news, who find no humor in the situation in Syria, who played a lot of music by Russian composers as young piano students, and who feel particularly strongly about gay rights. (Okay, maybe there’s only one of us, but you never know!)
In case you are another “I-should-read-the-world-news-but-I’m-in-a-hurry” type, Vladimir Putin took John Kerry up on his slightly facetious offer to have Syria give up its chemical weapons, talked to his buddy there, and may have helped avert a showdown in Congress about military action. But just as we were feeling relieved and even maybe grateful, Putin then published an opinion piece in which he blasted us for thinking America had any real role in the world and lectured us on how all people are created equal (but apparently not if they’re gay?) At any rate, from my rather odd perspective, there was something so irresistible about the combination of a Russian leader helping avert a crisis while simultaneously advocating anti-gay laws and then writing an anti-American op-ed which produced irate responses from both Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner. Now that’s a remarkable achievement!