February 2022

In February of 2022 hundreds of millions of TV viewers around the world will be watching a spectacle of sport staged by an execrably amoral entity.  While some alert readers (ARs) in St. Louis could be forgiven for thinking I’m referring to Super Bowl LVI, which is being hosted by Stan Kroenke, I am in fact referring to the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. As of this writing, over 200 NGOs and human rights organizations have called for a diplomatic boycott of these winter games and multiple nations, including The United States, are heeding the call.

While Nazi Germany hosted both the winter and summer Olympics in 1936, Beijing is the only city, as opposed to nation, to play host to both the summer and winter games.  Some ARs may recall that when Beijing hosted the 2008 summer games, some observers viewed the occasion as China’s coming out party.  Now that China was shining on the world stage, these pundits said it would surely abandon nasty habits like genocide, censorship, menacing its neighbors, compulsory sterilization and abortions,  internment camps, human trafficking,  slave labor etc.  ARs who heard these sanguine predictions 14 years ago might reasonably have wondered about the historical basis for making them.  Nazi Germany’s hosting of the winter and summer games in 1936 didn’t exactly presage an improvement of any sort on the part of Hitler’s regime.

It should be noted that not every corporate sponsor of The 2022 Winter Olympics regards China’s behavior as all that heinous.  For example, Coca-Cola, an influential sponsor of the 2021  MLB All Star Game, was among those who successfully pressured Major League Baseball into relocating the game from Atlanta to Denver because Georgia was suppressing human rights. Less than a year later Coca-Cola is among the corporate sponsors apparently content to underwrite the Winter Olympic Games in Beijing and pour billions of dollars into the coffers of the Communist Party in China.  In other words, Coca-Cola and the other sponsors have presumably concluded that whatever abuses are now taking place in China are not as bad as those perpetrated by the Georgia State Legislature.  How else can an AR or anyone else explain the disparate treatment of Atlanta and Beijing?

For the record, Schlafly Beer is not a sponsor of The 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing.  Our beer is, however, available in several Major League cities, including St. Louis, where it’s sold at several locations at Busch Stadium.

Schlafly is not a sponsor of The 2022 Winter Olympics.

Speaking of baseball, while much of the world is watching (or refusing to watch) The Winter Olympics, pitchers and catchers will be reporting to spring training.  That said, there is doubt in many minds whether spring training will begin on schedule.  Even more concerning, there are some who think the entire 2022 baseball could be in jeopardy.  While I am among the millions of fans who fervently hope that management and the players can come to an agreement,  I have a recommendation for fans of all teams in case the unthinkable occurs and the season does not start on time.  Read The Baseball 100  by Joe Posnanski.  Let me revise that.  Read the book in any case.  If there’s no baseball season it will give you something to do when you would otherwise be attending games or watching them on TV.  If there is a season, it will enhance your appreciation of America’s pastime.

I was given a copy of the book by an AR named Paul Martin.  It was a substantial gift, consisting  of 869 pages and weighing 2.8 pounds.  According to Posnanski, it is significantly longer than Herman Melville’s Moby Dick,  which was by far the longest book I read in high school.   Despite its intimidating length, it was enjoyable from start to finish.  I learned about players I had never heard of, including some from the Japanese and Negro Leagues.  And I gained new insights into players I thought I knew well.  If, heaven forbid, there is a lockout and the 2022 season is delayed or canceled, I encourage all ARs not to succumb to the temptation of watching reruns of past games. Read The Baseball 100  instead.

With Abraham Lincoln’s 213th birthday on February 12th, another book that’s appropriate to mention in this column is a biographical novel by Jan Jacobi titled Lincoln in Springfield.  As some ARs might recall,  Jacobi is himself an AR who had a book signing for his previous novel Young Lincoln in 2018 at Schlafly Bottleworks.  Like Jabobi’s earlier book, and definitely unlike Posnanski’s oeuvre,  Lincoln in Springfield  can be read in one or two sittings.

Another book that’s appropriate to mention is Ulysses by James Joyce, which was published one hundred years ago, on February 2, 1922.  Unlike Baseball 100 or either of Jacobi’s novels, it is not an easy read by any measure. Understanding it requires an encyclopedic knowledge of multiple genres of literature and culture, including a thorough familiarity with Homer’s Odyssey.  Otherwise it would be impossible to catch  allusions like the one in the chapter “Cyclops” in which the one-eyed drunken Citizen hurls a biscuit tin (not a large rock) at the protagonist Leopold Bloom; or the implied contrast between Bloom’s adulterous wife Molly and Penelope, the famously faithful wife of Odysseus.

Joyce’s Ulysses is now a revered literary classic, praised by some as the greatest and most innovative modern novel. That said, understanding it fully can still pose a huge challenge even for accomplished scholars.  For some ordinary English majors like me trying to decipher its meaning is the intellectual equivalent of training for and competing in a Super Bowl or The Olympics.

Tom Schlafly
Chairman – The Saint Louis Brewery