Today, in case in you missed it, Sean Spicer barred CNN, Politico, NY Times, BBC, and the LA Times from the news briefing aka gaggle. It was not a standard press briefing with the lectern, but one that was off camera, and the type that occurs when there is not a standard press briefing.
Later audio was released where Spicer seems to acknowledge that the barring was payback for news stories concerning Trump, in particular about the White House asking the FBI to say reports of Trump staff talking to Russians were wrong. A story that is basically validated by Trump's morning tweets.
This occurred after another speech by Trump denouncing "fake news" which in Trump speak means any news that fact checks him or that doesn't fawn over him. So news, which the worse charge you can hurl at it is bias.
Furthermore, Mem Fox was held at LAX because of a belief that her visa was not correct story here. And it isn't just those blasted Aussies, Muhammad Ali Jr (son of the boxer) and his mother were detained at a Florida airport.
None of this is good.
A free press is a must for governmental check and balances. Access to a public figure is essential when that figure serves the public. Something that Trump and the Republicans seem to have forgotten.
You control access, you control information.
The Billionaire Raj: A Journey Through India's New Gilded Age by James Crabtree My rating: 5 of 5 stars Disclaimer: AR...
Thursday, February 23, 2017
(Photo Source Goodreads.com)
Amazingly, we take for granted that instinct for survival, fear of death, must separate us from the happiness of pure and uninterrupted experience in which body, mind, and nature and the same.” (42)
Matthiessen’s book is part travelogue, part naturalist observations, and part coming to terms with loss. About a year after the death of his wife, Matthiessen travels along with a friend in search of a snow leopard, really in the search of big blue sheep. It’s much hiking and camping, and eating.
Early in the book, I found myself wondering why or to be more exact what type of father would leave a young son just a year after the son lost his mother. Matthiessen himself seems to be aware of this reaction, and he does not try to beg excuses. Instead, he quotes his son’s letter, a sobering missive.
And yet, this is not a self-indulgent pity party book.
It’s a book about coming to terms with one’s self, with loss, with life. Or what “Walt Whitman celebrated the most ancient secret, that no God could be found more divine than yourself” (63)
The point is that Matthiessen is able to make this a book about enlightenment, both his and the readers, so much so that one des agree with GS who wonders if it would perhaps be better if the snow leopard remained unseen.
At times, the reader does wonder. For instance, if PM had been a mother, would the book have garnered as much support and positive reviews. Is my reaction about his leaving his son because I don’t, I can’t, understand PM’s own grieving process? What is normal grieving anyway?
In many, it is the confessional tone, the prompting of these questions as well as the wonderful nature writing make the book worth a read.
(Photo source: Wikipedia Commons)
Tuesday, February 21, 2017
Once there was a beautiful queen named Leda. She was so beautiful that the king of the gods, Zeus, wanted to play hide the sausage. Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge. This really isn’t much of a compliment because Zeus would have sex with anything and anyone. And did. He really, really did. Gods don’t care about species or gender. There are many stories about Zeus’s appetite for men and women. He had a good PR person so the story of the affair with the asparagus is less well known. It really is a tragic tale, at least for the plant. Anyway, Zeus had to disguise himself because his wife Hera might cut off his balls if she found out (and the balls took time to regrow he knew from experience), and Leda herself wanted to actually stay faithful to her husband.
Zeus disguised himself as a swan and when Leda came down to the river to bathe, because bath tubs weren’t invited way back in the day, he raped her or it was mutual. It totally depends on the art work. Or the mechanics of swan/human interbreeding so let’s not go there.
Well nine months later, Leda gave birth to two eggs, gold eggs. This apparently happens when you have sex with a god who is in the shape of a swan. The eggs hatched and there were four children. Two were boys – Castor and Pollux – and two were girls – Clytemnestra and Helen. One girl and one boy were immortal and the others were not.
Leda had lots of eggs apparently.
Far away in another country, there was another king and queen. Priam and Hecuba. They ruled Troy and had a great many children, somewhere around 50, an even number of boys and girls. Hopefully not all from Hecuba. Hecuba gave birth to another son. Unfortunately, the royal couple was told that the son would lead to the downfall of Troy. They abandoned him on a mountain. Right on cue a nameless and childless shepherd and his wife showed up to adopt the lad. You think royalty would’ve known better for this happens all the damn time. Just kill the kid already.
Meanwhile, Helen had grown so beautiful that every time a man saw her he let out a wolf whistle and kidnapped her. This caused her brothers to get very tired because they had to rescue her each and every time. Then there was the whole question of whether or not she was virgin, but considering she was half divine she most likely had a self-repairing hymen. Sometimes, her brothers wished this wasn’t the case.
Since Zeus was not taking responsibility for his daughter (a tale as old as time), Helen’s step-father figure he would make her someone else’s problem by marrying her off. All the Greek kings and their brothers came knocking, including Menelaus whose brother Agamemnon had married Clytemnestra (maybe after he made her widow), and Odysseus whose kingdom was so small that Rocky would only use it as a training exercise. Helen’s stepdad watched in terror as the Kings started acting like male dogs around a bitch in heat, just with more chest thumping.
Odysseus noticed this and made an offer. “I know,” he said “that you will not chose me because my kingdom is so small, but if you give me Helen’s far less beautiful cousin Penelope –she seems really quiet and quite skilled at the loom –I’ll tell you what to do.”
The king spit on his hand and held it out for Odysseus to shake. After wiping his hand clean, Odysseus said, “Make all the kings swear a holy oath that if someone steals Helen, they help get her back.”
The king did this and then chose Menelaus for Helen’s husband, keeping things in the family. Nine months later the newlyweds had a little girl. They named her Hermione.
No, this was before Harry Potter.
Then the gods all went to a wedding, and I’m not exactly sure when this wedding was but it was sometime around this time. You know that time with Helen and Paris, not this time, though I suppose time would be flexible for gods, so maybe it was this time. Did you understand all that?
Anyways, not all the gods. Discord wasn’t invited, and she was related to the fairy from Sleeping Beauty. She showed up during the middle of the wedding feast and threw an apple of gold onto the table. She knew how to make an entrance. The apple said “to the fairest”.
All the goddess started fighting for it. Eventually it was whittled down to three goddesses– Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite. They went to Zeus and asked him to settle it. Zeus might have been a dog, but he wasn’t a dumb one. He had been a sucker once when Hera asked him whether her toga made her look fat. Never again. He looked down from his throne and saw a young shepherd by the name of Paris – yes, that Paris - tending his flock. “Ask him,” Zeus said and then went to ogle the nymphs. He did this as a turkey.
Paris was quite surprised to see three goddesses show up and ask him who the fairest of them was. Instead of doing the smart thing of running the other way as fast as possible while pretending not to understand Greek, Turkish, Minoan or whatever, Paris asked for time to think. Come back in half an hour, he suggested.
Like anyone who really wants something and can bribe people, the goddesses didn’t quite follow his instructions. Hera was the first to return to offer him something. “I’ll make you king of the world,” she offered before leaving. Athena arrived shortly afterwards. “I’ll make you the greatest general in the known universe,” she offered before leaving. Aphrodite appeared. “I’ll make the most beautiful women in the world fall in love with you,” she offered. She was a madam after all. When the three showed back up, Paris gave the apple to Aphrodite. This just goes to show that he must have been one of those really handsome, stupid people. As the greatest king or general, he still would have gotten the most beautiful woman in the world.
The other two goddesses sneered, made snide remarks, and then got out the chess pieces to plot revenge.
Saturday, February 18, 2017
I have a whole box of Ladybird Books. For those of you born too late or too focused on stateside books, Ladybird published children's books - usually little hardcover books. The books were designed to introduce children to reading. In the 1970s, when those in my collection were published, it included books like Helping with Mother, Let's Visit the Zoo. They were written on the level of Jack and Jane (or simpler), but the illustrations were far nicer. There was also a series of rhyming stories, of which this volume - The Runaway - is one.
The Runaway was my favorite. The story itself is about a hutch rabbit who, you guessed it, runs away to the forest. Considering the time period, the book is somewhat ahead of its time. The illustration makes it quite clear that the rabbit is the same as a wild rabbit, so while the boy does not mean any harm by keeping a pet rabbit, there is a slight sense of wrongness. But the story ends with both the boy (who now has a domestic rabbit) and the rabbit both happy.
Perhaps this story is why I love Watership Down.
(image via Pinterest)
the book also illustrates is the power of craftmenship. I do not how many times I read this book. But I read it over and over. Yet, it is is still together. Not a page missing.
(image via Pinterest)
(image via Pinterest)
There have been parodies of Ladybird books first by Miriam Elia and then by Penguin, the current owner of Ladybird (and no doubt others on the internet).
Recently, Penguin has announced adult Ladybird books about current topics such as climate change. This is the Expert series. The Climate Change book is by HRH the Prince of Wales. Go figure.
Some things last. Ladybird, which has been around for over 100 years, is one of them.
So this blog. I don’t why I started it. From a desire to do something, perhaps. Perhaps to keep from losing whatever is left of my mind, to keep my mind on an even keel. What kind of blog is this, you who most likely stumbled upon this trying to find something else might wonder.
Hopefully, it will contain book reviews, the odd movie review, lists about books, posts about books, and the odd post about current events. Perhaps art even. Perhaps fiction.