The Border

Whenever there is talk about “the border”, it is always the southern border, never the one we share with Canada.

The Economist’s take:

  • In the short term, Mr. Biden cannot change the dire circumstances that are propelling Central Americans, Mexicans and others from trying to set foot on American soil, but he can easily alter the signals he sends. His administration has at times sounded like a shy host who is too polite to kick out hungry gate-crashers. “We are not saying ‘Don’t come.’ We are saying ‘Don’t come now,’ was the excessively mild recent message to potential migrants from the secretary of homeland security, Alejandro Mayorkas. On March 16th, Mr. Biden sought to dispel any ambiguity: “I can say quite clearly: don’t come over,” he told ABC News. He needs to do more to impose clarity and control. — 20 March 2021

Sentence of the Day: The Economist, 20 Feb. 2021

The fact that only seven of them mustered the courage to join the entire Democratic caucus in voting against Mr. Trump suggests that the impeachment power is now in effect defunct.

— from “Marred but at largio: Donald Trump lives to fight and incite another day,” p. 22, The Economist (20 February 2021)

Getting Through It

It’s been almost a year since the world stopped, plans got thrown out the window, and nothing will ever be the same.

Self thought she’d take a moment to celebrate the things that got her through the past year:

Of course, gardening. Her garden has never looked so great. Every day she watches the oxalis in her backyard get higher and higher. And she just loves it.

Second, books, and her fantastic local library and their curbside pick-up system. She’s been using it since June (Before that, she ordered many books from Gallery Bookshop in Mendocino, which is equally fantastic). Also, self would like to thank the AUTHORS of these wonderful books. When self needed to be transported to another place and time, these authors delivered:

Self would also like to thank FREE CONCERTS. The week after everything shut down, St. Bride’s in London began streaming everything. And so did St. Mary’s Cathedral in San Francisco, which used to hold free noontime concerts every Tuesday.

She would also like to thank Cal Shakes, whose summertime Shakespeare was a high point of her summer, as long as she was home in the San Francisco Bay Area. (Her first Cal Shakes was Romeo and Juliet. ADAM SCOTT PLAYED ROMEO. Sold!!!) A few days ago, she got a message that they would mount ONE live production this summer (Dates to be announced), with appropriate social distancing, of course: Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale.

Also, FaceTime. Self has actually learned to FaceTime with Dearest Mum. It’s been so great.

And The Economist, which managed to come every week (every two weeks lately, since DeJoy destroyed the USPS)

Finally, she’d like to thank her favorite TV shows, because she’d never have gotten through without them: The Expanse (closing with Season 6), Peaky Blinders (closing with Season 6), The Crown.

A big hand also for Trader Joe’s, for being most sanitary of all the different supermarkets she’s shopped in.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

High Body Count: Eddie’s Boy, p. 29

Self loves this book! From the opening scene — the hero’s having a meltdown in a Bentley because he had to kill, it enraged him, can’t people just behave so he doesn’t have to kill them? — she’s been having a fine time!

There are four corpses (already) in that Bentley, and that’s just in the first paragraph!

Plus self loved learning about the excellence of the double-barreled Purdey & Sons rifle (100,000 GBP each, thank you very much!)

Anyhoo, the first four would-be assassins attempted a break-in at the hero’s re-modeled 1650s Yorkshire mansion (technically, the property of his wife, she’s a member of the English nobility). Our hero drives the Bentley to the Manchester airport, where he leaves it (and the four bodies) in the parking lot and waits for a shuttle to the terminal. Unfortunately, a new set of goons try to kill him before he can get on the shuttle. Since it is only p. 29, we can assume the hero survives, which means these assassins must be off-ed, as well.

A few pages later, our hero faces an existential crisis: how can he get rid of the blood spatter on his clothes before entering the plane (to Sydney)?

Digressing a bit: Self has a book to pick up from the library this afternoon. Then, FaceTime with Dearest Mum in Manila. Tomorrow morning, bright and early (4 p.m. London time), she’s registered for a talk by the woman who writes obituaries for The Economist (such elegant examples of the form, she’s even taught them in creative nonfiction classes). There’s another zoom event tomorrow afternoon, fortunately it’s Central time, not such a big time difference as Manila or London: poets Denise Duhamel and Nin Andrews, hosted by Rain Taxi, and free!

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

The Economist, 16 January 2021

Only one in six voters now supports the storming of the Capitol, but many of them still think the election was stolen, partly because, shamefully, Republicans have not dared to tell them the extent of Mr. Trump’s lies. Now is the time to start.

Mr. Trump will never forgive those whom, like Mitch McConnell, the Senate Leader, he judges to have failed him by acknowledging Mr. Biden’s election victory. Having begun to move against him, they should finish the job.

The Economist: Books of the Year 2020

A list from a list (highly idiosyncratic — in which self decides which kind of writing she’s going to spend most of 2021 doing)

BIOGRAPHY AND MEMOIR

  • A Promised Land, by Barack Obama – “A reminder that the 44th president is one of the best writers ever to serve in that office”
  • Stranger in the Shogun’s City, by Amy Stanley – “The everyday struggles of an obscure woman in Tokyo in the first half of the 19th century”
  • Kiss Myself Goodbye, by Ferdinand Mount – “The hilarious tale of a . . . pathologically inventive aunt in raffish, upper-class Britain either side of the second world war”

HISTORY

  • A House in the Mountains, by Caroline Moorhead – “Weaving deep research into a compelling narrative . . . about four women fighting with the partisans in northern Italy in 1943”
  • Alaric the Goth, by Douglas Bain – “Colorful portrait of the city and empire in the fifth century”

FICTION

  • The Slaughterman’s Daughter, by Yaniv Iczkovits – “Late 19th century picaresque about a Jewish mother in the Pale of Settlement who sets out to retrieve her wayward brother-in-law in Minsk”
  • Shuggie Bain, by Douglas Stuart – “Coming of age in Glasgow in the 1980s”
  • Homeland Elegies, by Ayad Akhtar – “Part autobiographical tale about growing up as a Pakistani-American through the age of 9/11 and then Donald Trump”
  • Burnt Sugar, by Avni Doshi – Opens with “I would be lying if I said my mother’s misery has never given me pleasure.”

CULTURE AND IDEAS

  • Leo Tolstoy, by Andrei Zorin – “Weaves together his times, his writing, his faith and his political activism”

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

  • Apollo’s Arrow, by Nicholas Christakis – “the history of plagues”

BUSINESS AND ECONOMICS

  • No Rules Rules, by Reed Hastings and Erin Meyer – “The boss of Netflix and his co-author explain how he arrived”

Hate-Mongering: Thanks for Everything, Mitch! Thanks, Lindsey!

. . . the white backlash to Mr. Obama, which Donald Trump rode to the White House, was not inevitable. It was engineered, a product of unprecedented obstruction from the Republican establishment in combination with relentless slander of the president . . .

The Economist, 21 November 2020 (Lexington: Audacious and Obstructed, p. 28)

Sea of Images 2020

The Economist: 7 – 13 November 2020

LEADERS

Only once in the past 40 years has a president been denied a second term. Mr. Trump will lose the popular vote by, we reckon, 52% to 47% — only the electoral college’s bias towards rural voters saved him from a crushing defeat. This is a repudiation of sorts.

A Biden White House would also set a wholly new tone. The all-caps tweets and the constant needling of partisan divisions would go. So would the self-dealing, the habitual lying and the use of governmental departments to pursue personal vendettas. Mr. Biden is a decent man who, after the polls closed, vowed to govern as a unifier. His victory would change American policy in areas from climate to immigration.

The Economist: Voter Suppression

Note on the new WordPress System: it lets you treat your blog like a real news outlet. In other words, you can get people to susbscribe, and limit what’s viewed by people who do not subscribe. btw, once you decide to use this system, there is no trial period. If you decide you don’t, after all, like to be like The New York Times, who actually charge for the privilege of reading an article, you have to trash the entire post, and begin again. As self is doing right now. Because the article on Voter Suppression is that important.

10 October 2020

Allegations of minority voter-suppression are hardly new. They are often . . . hard to prove. Yet Greg Abbott’s action in Texas stands out. On October 1st the Republican governor restricted the number of drop boxes for completed ballots to just one per county. For the 4.7m residents of Harris County, 70% of whom are non-white and liable to vote Democratic, that is a travesty.

Echoing President Donald Trump, Mr. Abbott said this was necessary to prevent voter fraud.

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