#amreading: Zoe Williams in The Guardian, 20 April 2017 (So déja vu)

  • As awful as this is, your despair will make it worse. — Zoe Williams, The Guardian

After watching (on Twitter) a broken-hearted spouse say good-bye to his partner, the policeman killed on the Champs Elysée (was it a week or two weeks ago, who can remember), and feeling like I am about to crack up (dispensing with “self” again — who knows, this may become a thing), I remember what grief I and probably 85% of the citizens of San Francisco felt after the Donald became SCROTUS.

What a bizarre situation to find ourselves in: when Theresa May called a snap election the question wasn’t even whether or not to despair. Obviously I’m in despair, and so are you. Just admit it. Rather, it was in the nature and extent of the despair. We have an unelected Conservative prime minister enjoying a lead in the polls that is higher for an incumbent than at any time since some younger voters have been alive.

Theresa May, the vicar’s daughter, was meant to be the George Washington of probity; her straightforwardness was putatively her redeeming feature, and here she is, doing the thing she has expressly been saying she wouldn’t do, ever since she’s been in post. The Tories have steered us straight into oncoming traffic, to the certain destruction of our international standing, the probable destruction of our prosperity, the possible destruction of our kingdom.

To cement which outrageous victory, they now want a rematch, only this time against an opposition with radical bearing and retail policies, the most unelectable combination imaginable. How can the Conservatives lose? Yet what breadth and depth of damage can they do if they win? Part of me wants to reconcile now to their victory, just so I don’t wake up on 9 June feeling 100 times worse than I did last 24 June after the EU referendum, 1,000 times worse than 9 November after Donald Trump’s victory, and a million times worse than I did after the 2015 general election, which now looks like an election picnic.

To all of which, I can simply say: I feel ya, Zoe Williams.

Stay tuned.

 

Front Page, The Guardian, 20 April 2017

Theresa May (one of Trump’s only remaining BFFs, after Putin) hints to the Sun that the UK may be cutting back on its spending commitments on overseas aid spending (current target: 0.7% of GDP on aid)

On the day the British government voted to hold an early general election, Bill Gates, billionaire philanthropist, spoke with The Guardian. He said: “The big aid givers now are the US, Britain, and Germany — those are the three biggest, and if those three back off, a lot of the ambitious things that are going on with malaria, agriculture and reproductive health simply would not get done.”

Gates said “the leadership role taken by the UK could determine whether ambitious efforts to eradicate malaria in Africa were launched. He added: “Malaria has always been the disease we really want to take on, and the UK has always, in terms of research capacity and aid, been a leader. In terms of where the aid ambition gets set, the UK can be a huge leader in driving that malaria eradication, or the world may have to back off and not get started on that.”

In an interview with the Sun, May “gave an evasive answer to the question of whether she would continue to back the 0.7% commitment . . . ”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

We Have Just Bombed Syria!

And The New York Times wrote a drippy article which made it seem as if Trump was such a humanitarian for doing so! He did it to stop chemical gas attacks on innocent civilians, you understand.

Since I’m still recovering from the whiplash of a CNN pundit (Zakaria) announcing that Trump appears to be “growing into” his Presidential role, I will dispense with the “self” point of view and go into a list of celebrity interviews that were ticked off by Hadley Freeman in her Style column in The Guardian of 21 March 2017 (I clipped it out; it was so entertaining).

In it, she cites some glaring differences in interview styles between men and women who do celebrity interviews.

Exhibit # 1: Rich Cohen interviews Margot Robbie for Vanity Fair, and puts in “She can be sexy and composed … ” never mind the rest of the sentence. The fact is he put in “sexy” and I don’t know if that’s a thing with male interviewers or what but if I interviewed, say, Tom Hardy, and called him “sexy” everyone would call me a cougar.

Exhibit # 2: Taffy Brodesser-Akner’s interview of Tom Hiddleston for US GQ in which “she teased out his private-school shallowness.” I like! I make a decision to search out this interview. (I’m so hyper today! I already looked up and read the entire interview — all right, I admit, I find Tom Hiddleston attractive! I think it’s okay to say that. He looks grrrreat in a brown suit. Just sayin’.)

Exhibit # 3: Anna Peele’s interview of Miles Teller in US Esquire “in which she unforgettably skewered his pretentiousness.” Another interview I decide I must search out.

Ms. Freeman points out that there “is something vaguely prostitutional about” doing a celebrity interview: “there you are, the journalist/client, demanding this far more beautiful person simulate intimacy with you for an hour.”

Okay, I like this woman.

One big difference between English journalists (i.e. Hadley Freeman) and US journalists is that Ms. Freeman gets commonly asked if she slept with any of her interviewees (I am shocked! So shocked at that question! But I do want to hear Ms. Freeman’s answer. I expect absolute candor!) and her answer is NO.

Other celebrity interviewees listed in the article: Paul Rudd, Idris Elba, Selena Gomez, Alicia Silverstone, Scarlett Johansson.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

More From Mary Beard

Self just loves writing that name so much: Mary Beard. Mary Beard.

It’s a wonderful name for a writer. Maybe if self was a man, she would still like to be called Mary Beard.

Anyhoo, in SPQR, Mary Beard tells us that the Imperial Roman Army was divided into centuries (So that’s where that word comes from!). These centuries were not all equal: even the rich served, so in the army the top “eighty centuries of men” were from “the richest, first class, who fought in a full kit of heavy bronze armour.”

Following these were four more centuries, “wearing progressively lighter armour” (“the richer you are, the more substantial and expensive equipment you can provide for yourself”).

The lowest class of centuries “fought with just slings and stones.”

The “very poorest . . . were entirely exempt from military service.”

#Huh

Would the reasoning go something like: The rich have the most to lose, so they would make the best warriors. The poorest class have nothing to lose, so we can’t trust them to defend the motherland with the same determination (Plus, if they can’t afford their own armor, the poor things would be killed quite handily)

Thinking of the modern-day American Army, it is an all-volunteer Army. No rich man needs to fight. Neither do the children of the rich.

You will see that certain states are more well-represented than others. Such as, for instance, West Virginia. Most people who sign up for the Army do so because they can’t afford to pay for college on their own; if they sign up, the Army will pay for college. So, they take their chances.

(Self has seen recruiting stations in malls in Daly City and South San Francisco, NEVER in Palo Alto, Cupertino, Menlo Park, etc etc Not even in downtown San Francisco. Need you ask why?)

This organization had a parallel in the voting structure (At least Imperial Rome recognized the vote!): Each century had just one block vote (like our American electoral college): “If they stuck together , the eighty centuries of the richest, first class . . .  could outvote all the other classes put together . . .  The richest citizens were far fewer in number than the poor, but they were divided among eighty centuries, as against the twenty or thirty for the more populous lower classes, or the single century for the mass of the very poorest.”

Fascinating.

Stay tuned.

It IS Easy Being Green! The Daily Post Photo Challenge, 22 March 2017

This week is all about color. For extra challenge, create a gallery.

— Michelle W., The Daily Post

  1. Justin Quinn’s poetry collection was published by Gallery Press (www.gallerypress.com)
  2. The sign was in the front window of Dog-Eared Books, Castro Street, San Francisco.
  3. The box was provided to me by Irish Express Moving Company, San Francisco. I used it to ship books I needed to Annaghmakerrig.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

What the Writing Desk Looks Like Today, 16 March 2017

It’s the day before St. Patrick’s Day: YAY!

Also, it is raining.

Here’s what the desk looks like today:

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Busy morning.

Self is preparing to send out a story to a writing contest. It’s hard but, since the contest offers a 1-year subscription in return for a (smaller-than-average) entry fee, she figured it was worth it.

The copy of The Guardian next to her laptop is weeks old. But reading about Spicer et. al. is endlessly entertaining.

The Oxford English Dictionary word of the day is aliasing (noun): the misidentification of a signal frequency, introducing distortion or error.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Andrew O’Hehir on Salon.com

Thought-provoking piece in Saturday’s Salon.com by Andrew O’Hehir in which he tries to parse how much of the blame for the Trump debacle rests on the media themselves, or on the distortion created by reliance on social media.

Since self is sure she is the only person in the world dealing with her excoriating disappointment over the U.S. political process while reading a book about a 1755 U.S. political crisis, let’s just say her opinions are probably based on comparisons between 1755 America and now.

And what self has concluded is that Trump reminds her of the English Prime Minister in 1755, the Duke of ______ (It was several hundred pages back; self will look up the name in a bit), who was endlessly campaigning, even when he had already won, and who was so quickly bored with the responsibilities of his position that he went to war and cared not a whit about sending suitable men and material with which to execute this war, and thus many people died on the American frontier, without gaining the English any political advantage (that English officer class, though — “Ours but to do or die” to the last!) — not that the Duke/Prime Minister cared all that much. After all, it’s not as if anyone expected him to pick up a musket! What a horrible, disagreeable, rude idea!

On to O’Hehir’s piece:

Quoting Samuel Greene of King’s College London by way of Thomas B. Edsall of The New York Times: “Our information landscape is open and fluid . . . voters’ perceptions have become untethered from reality. Thus, the news we consume has become as much about emotion and identity as about facts.”

Can you blame us? We’re stuck reading POTUS tweets every single day. Every single one of those tweets comes at us from an emotional angle. Granted, they all have the same emotional tone: that of a needy five-year-old. We’re so fascinated we can’t look away. Come on, media: even you must admit you’ve been hypnotized by posts that say SAD and BIGLY and YUUUGE. And if you professional journalists can’t resist this tsunami of unfettered emotion coming from POTUS, how do you expect us to?

O’Hehir on Fake News and how we got here: “In a universe shaped by the blatant untruths and racist fantasies of right-wing media, where Barack Obama’s birthplace was a mystery, the Sandy Hook shootings might have been staged and millions of people who were not obviously suffering from severe mental illness took the Pizzagate scandal seriously, the difference between news and fake news comes to seem like a matter of taste or opinion.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Road Taken: The Daily Post Photo Challenge, 1 March 2017

Show us something that delighted or surprised you on “the road taken.”

— Krista, The Daily Post

  • Tree-house, Backyard of Doris Duterte Stutely in Driffield, East Riding
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Tree-houses are fabulous. Self would like to live in one.

  • Before the Daly City Council Meeting, Monday 13 February 2017: Nikki S. Victoria, Filipina activist, greets fellow members of the community who volunteered to speak on behalf of making Daly City a Sanctuary City:
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If ever there was a time to speak up, it is now: City Hall, Daly City, February 2017

  • It is always exciting to discover a new museum. The below was one block away from self’s hotel in Washington DC, where she had flown to read for Quarterly West at downtown bar-restaurant Sixth Engine:
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Lobby of the National Building Museum in Washington, DC: Tour Guide, lower left

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Against the Odds 2: Books and City Councils

An unexpected victory? A snapshot of an unlikely moment? This week, show us something that defies the odds. 

— Michelle W., The Daily Post

How about books to help you achieve your dreams?

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Books to Straighten Your Thinking in 2017

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Daly City Vice Mayor Juslyn Manalo: Filipinos make up a sizable portion of the Daly City population. They struggle against many odds.

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At the Most Recent Daly City Council Meeting, Feb. 13, these signs were held by members of the audience.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

#amreading MONTCALM & WOLFE: The Decline and Fall of the French Empire in North America

France’s “manifold ills were summed up in the King. Since the Valois, she had had no monarch so worthless. He did not want understanding, still less the graces of person. In his youth the people called him the “Well-beloved,” but by the middle of the century they so detested him that he dared not pass through Paris, lest the mob should execrate him . . .  Louis XIII was equally unfit to govern; but he gave the reins to the Great Cardinal. Louis XV abandoned them to a frivolous mistress, content that she should rule on condition of amusing him . . . Madame de Pompadour . . .  filled the Bastille with her enemies; made and unmade ministers; appointed and removed generals. Great questions of policy were at the mercy of her caprices.

Montcalm and Wolfe, by Francis Parkman, p. 35

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