England

Just a Question, You Know, for No Particular Reason

This is a pertinent question, I think: Will Her Majesty Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith, now abdicate?

Because while the Prime Minister pretty much owes people his job, it just doesn’t seem Her Majesty is ever going to get another sign, short of death itself, that maybe it’s time to let somebody else figure out what to do next.

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British Broadcasting Corporation. “Brexit: David Cameron to quit after UK votes to leave EU”. BBC.com. 24 June 2016.

Something About the Evolution of American Politics

London, 11 February 2015.  Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wisconsin) speaks at Chatham House, a foreign policy research organization.  Photo uncredited, via NBC News.

“And so, when Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) arrived in London yesterday, there was a lingering fear: how exactly would he manage to screw this up? Now we know.”

Steve Benen

How?

No, seriously, I’ll bite: How does this keep happening?

First, Ned Simons of Huffington Post:

Speaking at the Chatham House foreign policy think tank London, Walker was asked: “Are you comfortable with the idea of evolution? Do you believe in it?”

“For me, I am going to punt on that one as well,” he said. “That’s a question politicians shouldn’t be involved in one way or another. I am going to leave that up to you. I’m here to talk about trade, not to pontificate about evolution.”

There are a few things here. The first is that it’s London. The second is to note the host’s disbelief; perhaps Americans don’t realize just how strange our evolution debate sounds to our friends and neighbors around the world, such that there is a reason our homegrown Creationists find international kinship among various religious groups we tend to worry about for any number of reasons derived from their theological justifications. Additionally, Walker’s decision to punt reflects a reasonable calculation within the American political context, but that point only highlights the glaring question of what role fundamentalist myth has in asserting reality under law.

(more…)

Simplicity

Bidi McGhee at Solsbury Hill, 2010 (left); simplified (right).

Actually, it is pretty cool.

And so it goes. It’s actually a fun little toy; the caveat is to use large photos with lots of data in them. The generator is rather quite (ahem!) minimalist. For instance, this is a picture of our very own BD at Solsbury Hill—yes, that Solsbury Hill—in 2010. Trust us, the color version wasn’t much … better? more complex? Something. Nothing.

Oh, right. Those of you who haven’t heard Rob’s band, yetα, really need to get with it. No, really, what are you, too hip to be square?

Oh, wait … that doesn’t … er … right.

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α Or his other band.

Image credit: BeanWalker/SimplifyThatSh.it.

The Beeb on Ferguson, and Other Notes

Ferguson protests: How the shooting of a black unarmed teenager sparked days of unrest and made a nation look at itself.  (BBC)

As much as we might appreciate the sentiment offered by the BBC for its sentiment on the Ferguson outrage, I must unfortunately beg to differ: “. . . made a nation look at itself”? Right. Yeah, that’s exactly what happened. Right?

Okay, yeah, we know. Right. That’s not even funny. Still, though, we do appreciate the Beeb’s hopeful sentiment, despite how “un-American” introspection actually is. No, really, remember that we dope introspective kids up in order to make them knock it off.

Okay, look, the truth is that when we “look at ourselves”, what we actually do is not look in the mirror, but point fingers at one another and yell a whole lot. Well, unless you’re a cop; then you point ugly guns at people and yell a whole lot. But internationals need to understand, the current President of the United States isn’t allowed to express human emotions without the danger of a white-led race riot. Remember what happened last time, when he said what any parent might say of a tragedy, that Trayvon Martin could have been his son. And remember the howls about how racist that is. Obama may be many things, but an idiot is not on the list. While his right-flank detractors scream about the race-baiting of sending the Justice Department to look into what appears, prima facie to be a police-sponsored murder and attempted coverup, his left-flank detractors are angry because he’s not showing enough “black anger”α. Meanwhile, supporters of the accused killer remind that Officer Wilson is “innocent until proven guilty”, a right stolen from the late Michael Brown, and wag their fingers about “rule of law”, which in their opinion means a white cop can shoot whatever black person he wants, the department can try to lie about it, and there’s nothing suspicious to be seen in that.

Americans seem to think this is the better alternative. Apparently, we are supposed to be scared senseless of our own reflections.

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α As we noted last month:

In the shadow of what happened and is happening in Ferguson, I’ve noticed that even the days of the Trayvon Martin debacle are, apparently, forgotten in much of the press. Even the distinguished Marc Lamont Hill, disclaiming that he “didn’t have any unrealistic expectations for Obama”, seems to ignore history in order to complain that the president is somehow blind to “black anger”. In his CNN opinion piece, the Morehouse College professor seems to have forgotten the facts that (A) Mr. Obama is a politician, (B) Mr. Obama is a politician who holds an extraordinarily important and controversial office, and (C) the fact of Mr. Obama’s ethnic heritage effectively requires that he downplay “black anger”.

And let me be clear: “Black anger” would appear to be wholly appropriate; the question is whether Dr. Hill prefers quick gratification or real progress. Right or wrong, the fact is that justice for Americans with dark skin is still a long time coming; the trend is to respond to “black anger” by punishing black people. Dr. Hill’s desire for a cheap quickie apparently takes precedent over real progress.

Or does that seem harsh?

Even so, it is at least somewhat accurate. That is to say that while politicians might rush to empathize with victims of crime and other tragedy, a black president saying the same thing about a dead teenager that a lot of us might say in other situations about, say, a white teenager who died, became a controversy about racism—how dare a black president sympathize with the challenges facing the black community!

British Broadcasting Corporation. “Ferguson Protests”. 2 September 2014.

Hill, Marc Lamont. “Obama, can’t you see black anger in Ferguson?”. CNN. 15 August 2014.

A Note From Lyme Regis

Greetings arrive from across an ocean, as D&C tour the Jurassic Coast of southwest England. The brief notes with the picture:

• “Real ale in every pub is a worthy goal.”

• “Thatcher’s Old Rascal cider (est. 1904, so … no, not that Thatcher) and Palmer’s Dorset Gold real ale. Cobb Arms, Lyme Regis.”

Thatcher's Old Racal, Palmer's Dorset Gold; Cobb Arms, Lhyme Regis, West Dorset, England. 23 June 2014.

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Image Credit: ©ADH, 2014