#amwritinghistoricalfiction: The English Arrive on Isla del Fuego

p. 243 of self’s novel-in-progress:

An English officer stands on the beach, waiting at attention. Matias gapes.

“England has attacked Spain, sir,” the man announces. “We have 5,000 soldiers in Manila. Colonel Chisholm.”

Plan B for the Nuclear Apocalypse

Thank you, Chris Breault of The A.V. Club for a very informative article (dropped 21 April 2017). Since Kim “Little Rocket Man” Jong-Un and DT seem to be engaged in the most gigantic game of “chicken” ever, Breault asked:

What’s your plan for the day nuclear war breaks out?

Do you sprint to a fall-out shelter . . .

Do you walk out on the fire escape naked . . .

Do you escape the city on a motorcycle . . .

Many of us have no such plan, because we’ve already heard Sun Ra explain that if the button is pushed, our asses will simply be gone.

There is, wouldn’t you know, a U.S. Agency calling itself the Federal Preparedness Agency which would chopper “presidential successors” to “an installation on Mount Weather, Virginia.”

Here’s the link.

Among other fascinations, there is discussion of presidential code words, which be like — FOUR FINGER?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

2017 Highlights #1: To the Graduates of Bethune-Cookman

In a year of lowlights (“Rocket Man” and Fake News, the US pull-out from the Paris Climate Agreement, THAT DARN WALL, Charlottesville and “many sides,” the Las Vegas shooting, the Texas shooting, the dissembling of Sarah Huckabee Sanders), self would like to thank the graduates of Bethune-Cookman, for giving her one of the most stirring memories of 2017.

Betsy DeVos, the “woefully under-qualified Secretary of Education,” was invited to speak at the Bethune-Cookman commencement. This is the Secretary of Education who had not (yet) at that point announced that she would put an end to the loan assistance provided to those college students who intended to become teachers. But she had already said her piece about guns in schools: It would be appropriate #because grizzlies. Worst of all (This quote is taken from the open letter to the graduates of Bethune-Cookman, published in Cassius) was “her egregious framing of historically Black colleges and universities as pioneers in school choice.”

!!##@@ Put laughing-so-hard-its-painful emoji here.

The students stood and turned their backs. Literally.

The students defied the presence and rhetoric of DeVos.

Thank you.

The Observer, Sunday, 29 October 2017

3-Page Special on US Politics in Today’s London Observer :

  • We must stop pretending the degradation of our politics and the conduct of some in our executive branch are normal . . .  Reckless, outrageous, and undignified behavior has become excused and countenanced as ‘telling it like it is’ when it is actually just reckless, outrageous and undignified.

— Jeff Flake, Republican Senator from Arizona, who is not seeking re-election

  • (Flake) is one of my most detested politicians . . .  Of the 14 Republicans who voted for (an amnesty on illegal immigration), five are gone.

— Ann Coulter, rightwing political commentator

Self was surprised that The Observer gave such prominent place to US politics. Because isn’t England going through some pretty weighty upheavals of its own? She’s grateful, though, for this chance to see America through a different lens. She thought about this article all through dinner.

Coulter exults that five of the Republicans who voted against amnesty on illegal immigration “are gone.” Subtext is that she’d be very glad to see the remaining nine “gone” too, payback for speaking out against the President. Like, being “gone” is proof that they are, to borrow a lame term from 45, losers.

Wait, why is The Observer quoting Coulters? Self never heard the name Ann Coulters on TV or in the newspapers, for almost a year. She isn’t that famous.

You know who’s famous? Ivanka Trump. Because Colbert makes fun of her.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

#amreading: HIS FINAL BATTLE, THE LAST MONTHS OF FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT, by Joseph Lelyveld

Skimmed the last 50 or so pages of Submission. Fascinating, densely written. After the President of France is elected, there’s endless amounts of conjecture about Sharia Law. The last paragraph of the novel was brilliant.

And then she began the next book on her reading list, His Final Battle: The Last Months of Franklin Roosevelt. Self loves World War II history books.  A really good World War II history book can light up her life in a myriad ways. This one had her completely hooked, from page 1.

Self doesn’t know why, but she was completely ready for this book. Against the panoply of war is a sick man who just happens to be the President of the United States. The curtain came “down abruptly” on Franklin Roosevelt in the twelfth week of his fourth term, “on a balmy April afternoon in Warm Springs, Georgia.”

Roosevelt’s fourth term was “the third shortest presidential term” in U.S. history. Shortest was William Henry Harrison’s 32 days, and then the six weeks of Abraham Lincoln’s second term. Roosevelt was, to borrow a term from author Joseph Lelyveld, “plaintive” in his last months.

p. 12:

Mortality is the ultimate reason for feeling plaintive. In our waning hours, we get on with our tasks. Roosevelt was racing, as we all are, against time. If we want to take him in his full measure, we need to see him in his full context, in the round, not just as a dying man in what we may glibly call “denial,” but as an actor playing out his role, simply because he found no alternative; in that sense, a man touched by the heroic. Of all his responsibilities as the war headed into its climactic last year, calculating the date of his own terminus was not necessarily, in that clamorous time, the most pressing.

In other words, people, it’s not always about you. What a contrast to 45, who manages to make even hurricanes seem like personal affronts. 45 addressing the people of Puerto Rico: “Personally, I’m having a horrible day.” Not sure if he said this before or after he threw Brawny paper towels at a roomful of people. Self still doesn’t understand the significance of throwing paper towels to people who are recovering from what @RealRBHJr calls “Big Water”. (A joke, maybe?)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Still Reading: SUBMISSION, p. 161

Context: France is undergoing deep and rapid change. For one, the newly elected president is Muslim.

Been a long time since self has read a political novel.

Maybe it was too soon to give up after all — witness these two girls, and my father’s surprising late-life transformation. And maybe, if I kept seeing Rachida on a regular basis, we’d end up having feelings for each other. At least, there was no reason to absolutely rule it out.

  • — p. 161, Submission, by Michel Houellebecq, translated from the French by Lorin Stein

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Quote of the Day: San Francisco Chronicle, 17 August 2017

After the deadly white supremacist march in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend, people have taken to social media to identify or “dox” the participants in order to shame them. The criticism doesn’t just land at the feet of participants, but often extends to their employers, leading to lost jobs over the exposure. Some people see this practice as violating one’s freedom of speech. Yes, this country is based on freedom of speech, but not freedom of consequences. It’s not a slippery slope. People are marching to intimidate and oppress other Americans.

There’s a real difference between disagreeing over politics and hate speech. No one is obligated to walk on eggshells for those who call for oppression. If you’re concerned with privacy, don’t show up to a public protest spouting racism — and then be surprised if people want to identify you.

— Spencer Whitney, Assistant Editor, San Francisco Chronicle

#amreading: THE FALL OF THE OTTOMANS, by Eugene Rogan

Rogan’s The Fall of the Ottomans is the first history/nonfiction self has been able to get into since May.

She’s on Chapter Five: Launching Jihad, p. 102

The Jihad does not come from the source you’d expect: It is December 8, 1914. Turkey’s Minister of War is a politician named Enver Pasha.

Rogen’s description of Enver:

Enver, an impetuous man, had made his career through bold, high-risk initiatives. A historic leader of the 1908 revolution, an architect of the 1911 Ottoman-led jihad in Libya, leader of the 1913 raid on the Sublime Porte who forced the prime minister to resign at gunpoint, and “liberator of Edirne” in the Second Balkan War, Enver believed in taking action and had little doubt in his own judgment and abilities.

Here’s a list of the other history self has read thus far in 2017:

  • Montcalm and Wolfe: The Decline and Fall of the French Empire in North America
  • The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
  • SPQR
  • Rubicon
  • The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

 

The Wall: Pro and Con from Ground Zero

The excerpts are from an article by Jenny Jarvie and Brian Bennett in the Los Angeles Times, 18 July 2017, about the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, where preparation for construction of the border wall has begun. The area, about 10 miles southeast of McAllen, is also the site of a 2,088-acre refuge created in 1943 “for the protection of migratory birds”:

  • “The Rio Grande Valley has been an area of exploitation by smugglers, and an area lacking in border infrastructure,” Carlos Diaz, a Customs and Border Protection spokesman, wrote in an email. “These miles will help connect existing segments of wall throughout the area and fill critical gaps.”
  • “This is insane,” said Scott Nicol, co-chairman of the Sierra Club’s Borderlands Team. “This is the crown jewel of the Rio Grande Valley wildlife refuge system, with one of the highest rates of biodiversity in the U.S. If it’s walled off, with no public access, it will be left to rot.”

According to the LA Times, “the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is under contract with Michael Baker International, a global engineering firm, to gather geotechnical data at sites in the Rio Grande Valley and other locations along the Southwest border, according to Jenny Burke, a spokeswoman for the Homeland Security Department.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Also Reading: Evan Osnos in The New Yorker, 8 May 2017

Many scholars believe that the most plausible bases for a Trump impeachment are corruption and abuse of power. Noah Feldman, a Harvard Law School professor who specializes in constitutional studies, argues that, even without evidence of an indictable crime, the Administration’s pattern of seemingly trivial uses of public office for private gain “can add up to an impeachable offense.” Last week, after the State Department took down an official Web page that showcased Trump’s private, for-profit club, Mar-a-Lago, Feldman told me, “A systematic pattern shown through data points would count as grounds for impeachment.”

And self is nowhere near the end of this article. It’s taken her days just to get this far.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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