It awaits us all.

Thousands of birds were killed on Aug. 11 when a destructive hailstorm lashed regions northwest of Billings, Mont. According to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, the supercell thunderstorm “killed and maimed more than 11,000 waterfowl and wetland birds at the Big Lake Wildlife Management Area west of Molt.” Molt is about 20 miles west-northwest of Billings, Montana’s largest city.


It’s the Mecca, the place that drew us all. Once upon a time . . .

from today’s NYT:

The outrage swirling across this city finds its roots in what officials have called a profoundly inappropriate sexual relationship between the 14-year-old, Cherice Moralez, who has since committed suicide, and Stacey Dean Rambold, who was a 49-year-old business teacher at Billings Senior High School. It began in October 2007 and lasted about three months.

–an elevated, orotund, deeply ironic prose style that, in severe cases, reveals almost nothing about what the topic is or what the author wishes to say about it except for a general sense of superiority to everyone and everything around.

One of the joys of living in a world filled with stupidity and hypocrisy was to see Hitch respond. That pleasure is now denied us.

So true, so sadly true.

"I am programmed by the practice of a lifetime to take," he wrote, "a contrary position."

No wonder it’s been such a crazy, manic, booze-craving week.

He became a staff writer and editor for The New Statesman in the late 1970s and fell in with a literary clique that included Martin Amis, Julian Barnes, James Fenton, Clive James and Ian McEwan. The group liked to play a game in which members came up with the sentence least likely to be uttered by one of their number. Mr. Hitchens’s was “I don’t care how rich you are, I’m not coming to your party.”

“It’s glossing over all the unknowns for the sake of a quicker, cleaner solution,” he says. “It’s wrong to be so uniformly fatalistic so early on, especially with all the data emerging about the prospects for later-stage recovery.”

Mother and son, both lean, watchful and dark-haired, are like a pair of predatory reptiles incongruously housed with the fluffy, friendly animals. Their antagonism is its own kind of bond, which makes its fulfillment almost incomprehensibly terrible. [New Tilda Swinton movie review, in the NYT.]