Turnout: England, 8 June 2017

The “youthquake” was a key component of Corbyn’s 10-point advance in Labour’s share of the vote — exceeding even Tony Blair’s nine-pont gain in his first 1997 landslide. No official data exists for the scale of this but an NME-led exit poll suggests turnout among under-35s rose by 12 points to 56% compared with 2015. The survey said nearly two-thirds of younger voters backed Labour, with Brexit their main concern.

— Alan Travis, The Guardian, Saturday, 10 June 2017

Betsy DeVos, Have a Breakdown

Because, at this point, I do question your mental health.

Smiley face when confronted by angry Black students.

Absolutely the right response. Absolutely.

How dare you, woman have you no shame. Race issues obviously mean nothing to you. Nothing.

Then if you can’t understand, be afraid.

Afraid of your own poor judgment.

So I look at the video again. There you are: Keep on smiling! Adjust those podium mikes! Look helplessly at the Black University President by your side! (A completely idiotic and inappropriate response, let me tell ya: “Help me! I’m a vulnerable white woman! In a sea of angry Blacks!” Thus prompting racists of all stripes, those in plain view as well as those merely lurking, to go: “Look at what those people are doing to this poor, helpless white lady!” I wish never to see another such performance in my lifetime)

Betsy, you are doing so much damage to education, every day that you continue in your position. Because you’re just sleepwalking. You know it, the President knows it, the GOP knows it.

To the graduating class of Bethune-Cookman: I salute you. You will go on to do great things.

Link.

“Getting Kicked in the Teeth”: Elizabeth Warren

Warren is on the Left? So sayeth The Guardian in a feature on Elizabeth Warren (2 May 2017)

  • For many on the US left, Elizabeth Warren embodies best of Sanders and Clinton.
  • With Sanders still a leading vice and centrist politics around the world in retreat, it might be tempting for Democrats to turn left.

Stop doing that, Guardian! Stop labeling our politicians.

  • Warren: I think left/right is less and less an accurate description of the political landscape.
  • Warren: GDP, unemployment, no longer reflect the lived experiences of most Americans. And the lived experiences of most Americans is that they are being left behind in this economy.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Danger!: The Daily Post Photo Challenge, 3 May 2017

Signage, Cork:

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How will Brexit impact Ireland? No one knows for sure.

What’s next for America?

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Reading The Guardian, March 2017

As luck would have it, self began reading The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, by Edward Gibbon:

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Self’s reading of THE DECLINE AND FALL gave self all sorts of premonitions.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

George Washington: First POTUS

This spring, self began reading a series of histories, starting with Francis Parkman’s Montcalm and Wolfe: The Decline and Fall of the French Empire in North America.

She really enjoyed that book, which gave reader’s glimpses of the very young George Washington (21 years old) in his first combat experience. Throughout the book, there were other glimpses. Finally, by the end of the book, self could not believe how much this young man had grown and flourished. Even though he wasn’t the main subject of the book, and was still only in his 20s by the time the events the book narrated were over, he showed himself to be a natural leader.

Now, months later, self has just begun reading The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey, by Rinker Buck. On p. 30, she reads Buck’s opinion of Parkman: “a notoriously snobbish Boston Brahmin.” Okaaaay. He also says George Washington “worked the same day job as Donald Trump” — he was a “land developer . . .  described as the richest of his generation.” (p. 32)

But, one interesting fact about Washington was that he was so practical, he saw right away the usefulness of mules as farm and/or pack animals, and he immediately began to breed them, and he even “advertised in the Pennsylvania and Virginia newspapers . . . the services of his jacks, who made long breeding tours throughout the . . .  colonies and the new frontier states every year . . . The early descendants of the Mount Vernon stock — tall, drafty, and weighing between a thousand and 1,200 pounds . . . ” (which is 10 x what self weighs, and she can’t imagine having to deal with anything that weighs 10 x as much as her — it would be so devastating an encounter, probably as bad as an encounter with a grizzly) were initially called American Mammoth mules . . .

So there’s our first President for you — a natural leader, a practical man, one who propagated the west with American mammoth mules, and self would never have known if she hadn’t read Rinker Buck.

That is why reading is so important, etc etc

Wonder what SCROTUS reads? Sorry, but self cannot help comparing # 1 and # 45 and feeling that there is a yawning gulf . . .

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

#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.

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