Sunday, August 11, 2019

Patriotism: Bogus concept employed by evil people

 Image result for bad patriotismI was never a patriotic American. I believe the US constitution is the greatest political document ever written, and is capable of--if followed perspicaciously--creating an almost perfect nation. But it isn't and it hasn't. Obama tried, but the odds were against, so I left the US, my only regrets being the loss of my beloved home, New York City, and Key West, the only place I have truly ever loved to take a holiday.

Still, it was not, actually, easy for me to renounce my US citizenship, though I found it to be a moral imperative.

I am not a patriotic Brit; I am not a Brit at all. I am an Irish citizen. And I admit to being completely banjaxed that the UK that seemed to be abandoning its tribal hatred of the people it formerly invaded, subjugated, humiliated and starved is now doubling down on its mistreatment, in every way, of the Irish people and the Irish nation. How long I remain in this environment remains to be seen. I lobby against Brexit not for the sake of the British, who have so often proved themselves unworthy of humane consideration (May, BJ,* Rees-Mogg, Davies, IDS and so many other viciously cruel and calculating politicians, you'd think the UK was 100 times its size to produce such masses of evil and incompetence, and voters to support it), but for the decent people everywhere who will be harmed or even killed.

Patriotism is a bogus concept in any case. A nation is made up of people and culture, and both of those change constantly. Patriotism assumes an action of the human heart that is literally impossible to maintain. Why? Because a nation is always a work in progress. To which part, exactly, are you willing to sacrifice yourself? This year it's to whipping Iran; last year it was to whipping ISIS, many years ago it was to whipping the North Vietnamese/Chinese, an impossible task as are they all.

We--the corporate we of the relatively enlightened West--whipped Nazi Germany.

Or did we? If it had been vanquished, how then explain its resurrection in Germany and its exportation to the rest of the EU and the US?

No, patriotism is a fickle lover. And I, for one, will have none of it.

People I will love. Animals I will love. Paintings, music, dance, food, architecture, learning I will love.

I will even love a concept. What I will not do is prostate myself before a concept--and make no mistake, patriotism is a concept and a weak one at that--nor will I beat anyone else up with a concept.

That having been said, Bollocks to Brexit. It is fascism, pure and simple. And fascism depends on mindless natterings of evil people who would have you trade your humanity for their idea of patriotism, which is, if you hadn't noticed, always to their advantage and never to yours.

* BJ is Boris Johnson. If the initials fit... 

Copyright 2019 by Laura Harrison McBride

Leavers: Graphic Explanation of Brexit For Your Reading Pleasure

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Read the 2016 Mirror story...and wonder how you can even contemplate a return to waht they found then...and Brexit guarantees this for many.

Dear Leaver,

Suppose you have a house, a nice house that you bought and improved and made perfectly comfortable for yourself and your family.

You have a job, maybe not your dream job, but a good job that lets you have a nice house. And nice clothes. And good food, and even the option of saying, 'Nuts. I'm tired. Let's go out for dinner," when you want to. You have holidays abroad, basking in the sun and renewing your spirit so you can continue working and earning enough so that your kids will have the education that lets them get their dream job...and you STILL haven't given up on the possibility of getting your dream job. In fact, if you watched just a bit less football, and got your CV out to more employers....

So, really, life is good.

And then one day, you wake up and hear that there is even better stuff ahead--possibly 20 to 50 years ahead--if you will just knock a few holes in your house's siding, maybe rip up the second-bathroom plumbing--the bathroom that lets both you and your spouse get ready for work on time, PLUS getting the kids to school.

And they say you'll have to give up most fresh vegetables, the avocados that your daughter loves and are almost the only vegetable she will eat, and the lean meat your overweight son must have if he isn't to develop diabetes. But hey, it will only be for 20 to 50 years. they say. 

You're 40 now, so you'll only be somewhere between 60 and 90 when the magic happens. You can enjoy a bit of it, maybe. But it's worth it; the rich people say all the money they will make by asking your to scrimp a bit will eventually trickle down to you. It must be worth it; you don't want to be called a traitor, which is what they've called those who have objected to wrecking their lives for the promises of people who are giving up nothing. Sometimes you's your government...Surely they wouldn't harm you. Surely. Though sometimes it is tough to face all this...still...

You need to give up your job, too, they said, to make this ultimate dream existence work. And your spouse must also quit working. But it will be OK. They say you can live just fine on benefits because whatever food there is will be much cheaper. And of course, you can sell your nice house that you worked for and move into a caravan. It's only for 20 to 50 years, after all.

You can save money on clothing, too. First, you don't need clothes for work. And second, there are so many more charity shops on the high street now than ever before, you can take your pick of the rich folks' cast offs. When you think about it, though, you realise that while there will be more charity shops, there will be more people like you, having quit their jobs while looking forward to the payoff after 20 to 50 years, so maybe there won't be enough clothes?

Some people were luckier than you. They didn't have to abandon their jobs and feel like a loser; their jobs left them, and went to a nation that had long-standing agreements over customs and tariffs and all those things you don't quite understand but which, you've heard from those the leaders call traitors, were really important to having a good standard of living.

The Tories said it will be fine, you repeat whenever you doubt. You read something to the contrary once, but only once, because the Tories began issuing gag orders. "It's just to keep us safe from negativity," you tell yourself. And your spouse. And your kids, who really miss chocolate and holidays and their swimming pool membership. Your daughter was on track for the Olympics in diving. But, well, she can just pick it up again in 20 to 50 years.

Your mother got sick last week, but the proper medicine wasn't available, so they gave her a substitute from China--some herbal shit--that didn't cure her and now she'll probably be on oxygen the rest of her days. But at least you are home to take care of her; the government decided providing carers was too negative, and stopped all the programs. Only traitors, they say, complain about lack of health care. REAL patriots just suck it up and take whatever comes, regardless of who it hurts.

If you don't mind, please let us know, in 20 to 50 years, how it has all worked out for you. Any of us still living in the UK then (remember, anyone with Irish grandparents or who is a citizen of NI can get Irish citizenship and leave the UK, and of course Scotland is now an independent nation) would like to know.

Good luck.

Copyright 2019 by Laura Harrison McBride

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Brits: The stiff upper lip is quivering as crocodile tears run down their cheeks


A dozen years ago, before we moved from the US to the UK, we had a lovely flat in Tavistock where we spent many of our holidays. One morning, early, I was awakened by a voice drifting in our bedroom window. Our flat was on the ground floor, on a main street, and our bedroom was in the front. As it was what passes for summer in the UK, we had the window open. A bit.

"But Karen," the voice outside whimpered--over and over and over again--"You don't know how I FEEL."

We laughed quietly, we hoped, at the jerk sniveling at dawn on a public street to a lady who obviously wanted nothing to do with him. Since then, whenever we have seen anyone sniveling in public, one of us will say, "But Karen....."

This morning, reading the tweet below reminded me of the sniveling boyfriend, and it came to me:
The entire LEAVE contingent is nothing more than a substandard collection of sniveling grown-up crybabies who want what they can't have and are torturing the parents--the rest of us--with their persistent and consistent whining and crying. And then telling us, "But Karen...."
It is most unattractive, especially in a population long lauded for having a "stiff upper lip" and being able to handle whatever came at them.

The single thing that finally forced my eyes open to the pitiful self-loathing of the British people--the Leaver portion at any rate--was this Twitter post by, not inconceivably, a Leaver and Labour party British Member of Parliament:

Lisa NandyVerified account @lisanandy May 28
The arrogance of this - sitting in London, judging me and voters in Wigan, making absolutely no effort to understand at all what people think, feel or have experienced, or the work we’re doing here. No humility and not a single lesson learnt from the last three years

Sitting at breakfast, discussing the headlines, I mentioned this to Simon and that's when the lightbulb lit up: AHA!  Brits have become so degraded that they are now--the LEAVERS at any rate--no more than cranky children disappointed that they can't eat their cake and have it, too, and forcing their useless, tiresome and unattractive tantrums upon the adults in the room, the rest of us. Aside from that, Nandy mentions not understanding or learning the lessons of the last three years. 

One thing I understand is that Nandy is half-Indian, her father being Dipak Nandy, an Indian Marxist; LEAVERS are terrified of "brown" people taking over the UK, and yet,she must despise herself, or half of herself and her father, as she is a "brown" person.  

Another thing I understand is that we have learned, those of us with working brains, that the Brexit mess has already cost the UK its world leadership role, thousands of jobs (to be millions if Brexit ever happens), needless deaths in a diminished NHS starved for funding by the Tory Brexiteers, educational excellence, and lots more.

Once it had all sunk in, I tweeted to the whiny Ms. Nandy:
I'm sitting in Cornwall, but I'm a New Yorker, which trumps London for world cities, and am also an Irish citizen. I don't know THAT you think, never mind what you think. Your sense of injury is unattractive, and your bullshit stinks. You serve only your own cockamamie daydreams.
It seems all LEAVERS are whiny little toads, with an over-developed idea of their own humanity and place in the universe. Think about it: Nigel Farage went apeshit nuts when someone splashed him with a milkshake. To hear him tell it, he was milkshake-boarded and about to die. It was either a bit of grandstanding in which Frograge displayed his keen sense of injury, the fact that he pushed his inadequate self on the UK population notwithstanding. Or maybe he really is that scared of milk. 

 We know he's afraid of work; he spends most of his time mewling about how bad the EU is, despite the fact that the only elected position he has ever had is as Member of the European Parliament; even so, he has taken the paycheck for 20 years, and rarely shown up for work. And now he wants to take the UK out of the EU, and destroy the EU to boot, with Bannon's help. Frograge is SO ill-used. 

Frograge laments his horrible life after the Referendum, saying he's "skint" despite a large salary and that he and his kids are targets. Poor little fascist!
By contrast, Ed Milliband (Labour politician) was slimed by a comestible liquid on one of his political outings. He simply slipped off his jacket, handed it to an aide, and quipped that he guessed there might be someone who didn't like him. A reasonable response from a reasonable man. Yet another Labour or LibDem politician (can't recall which, but not a Tory and certainly not a Brexity creep) had an ice cream shoved right into his face. Did he demand "justice" and threaten to prosecute, as Nigel Frograge did? Of course not. He simply wiped his face, and carried on.

It's sad, really, that the tiny nation which once controlled other, bigger nations on every continent on earth can now not even control the whining of its substandard political class. Really, I don't care about that as much as I care about the whiners being sent permanently to the Naughty Chair so the rest of us can go about rebuilding the European UK they are trying so hard to destroy.

 C. 2019, Laura Harrison McBride

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

A milkshake a day keeps the fascists away

A really nice look. And better, he's already wearing a blue ribbon.Well, OK, turquoise. But he still is a blue-ribbon punk of cosmic proportions.

Poor wee Nigel "Milkshake" Farage. In 2017, he was caught in a lie about an assassination attempt.  He promised--as a result of being found out not only of being a wimp but of being a lying wimp--that he wouldn't go nuts over his "security issues" ever again.

Ever, in Nigelspeak, is about two years and, when he was doused with a sweetened milk product this week, he went off on his security detail like a hooker who got stiffed, in the monetary sense, by her john.

Frankly, watching Nigel's discomfiture was good entertainment. And it also revealed a bit more of the clown's character. He has all the common sense of a pet rock.

Think about it; he's a public figure. Public figures regularly run into things they don't like and people who don't like them. The reasonable way to handle this instance would have been to dip his finger into one of the splashes on his jacket, taste the milkshake, and say, "Oh, vanilla. Would you mind using chocolate next time?"

But he couldn't, of course. Fascists lack humour to the same extent as Trump lacks brains. But they are very high on the scale of useless haughtiness (also like Trump). Farage's royal ass had been  insulted; how DARE anyone fuck with Fascist Central Number One? How DARE anyone besmirch the royal suit with a sticky substance? How DARE anyone express displeasure in so HARMLESS a way. 

His perimeter had been breached; someone would have to die. And so, the political tosser is pressing charges against the milkshake tosser. What a loser. Not the milkshake guy, the pitiable mountain of toad-colored, cigar-stinking, beer-bonging flesh that has created the walking turd known as Nigel Farage.

Anyway, here are my thoughts on further "drive by" milkings:

1. A milkshake is not a deadly weapon, like the knives and bullets that have killed liberal politicians, including Jo Cox, for whom Farage couldn't be bothered to stop campaigning for his execrable fascist Brexit for two lousy days while her family and the decent part of the nation mourned.

2. Assuming, however, that the courts in their Toried lack of wisdom penalise throwers of milkshakes onto politicians, there is a way forward. It's simple, really. Don't THROW the milkshake. Instead, wait until you can get close enough to the target, armed with a giant size shake in a flimsy cup. Pretend to slip, and grip the milkshake so hard that it explodes out of the cup onto the target. How can one be penalized for an accident? I mean, Farage's mother was not penalised for the accident of bringing a witling fascist into the world, and that's a lot worse than milkshaking someone.

3. If Nigey's "people" ask local fast food joints not to sell milkshakes when he's coming to town, just hoard a fast food cup or two beforehand and make your own. It will be plenty sticky if you use whole milk and a lot of honey, enough to thicken it a bit but not to prevent it exploding out of the cup under pressure. (You may have to experiment.)  A nice touch might be adding some lovely strawberry flavouring for scent and food colouring for staying power.

The biggest problem might be getting close enough to cause such an accident. Pansy Nige has now taken to cowering in his bus, and pretending that suddenly campaigning for the destruction of the UK has become too dangerous. I'd be happy if he cowered in his bus for the next 50 years; unless he really is one of the undead, we should be rid of him by then and our children and grandchildren won't need to take out Milkshake Spillage Insurance if they ever decide to attend a political event.

C. 2019, Laura Harrison McBride


Thursday, April 11, 2019

Lord of the Flies lives on in the UK's Tories

Every nation, it seems, has a two-tier educational system, with government-supported schools for most children, and expensive privately paid for schools for the children of the wealthy. It seems only rational that parents who could afford to pay for school would send their children where, ostensibly, those children would be better educated than by a government-supported school. 

With the current depredations on government schools by the UK's entitled Conservative (Tory) party members, there's good reason to believe that--as far as actual book-learning goes--the private schools are superior. But for every other part of the preparation of decent, intelligent adults, the UK's private (called public in the UK, but called private hereafter in order not to confuse non-British readers) schools are a disaster from start to finish.

Taking children out of family life and putting them in residential school settings where there is a housemother but no family, and the only humanising that is done is by other equally unformed adolescents, produces tribal behaviour, not humanity. Tribal behaviour results in fights; fights result in deaths; deaths result in misery for the living. In short, by forcing upper-crust kids into an artificial cultural construct, we have guaranteed that we will be governed by juveniles not even remotely equal to the task.

Fiction as fact

In fact, the Tories are a perfect reflection of the private school ethos used as the basis for William Golding's Lord of the Flies. The book concerns the descent into savagery of a group of pre-adolescent boys marooned on a Pacific island with no adults to lead them. They form a tribe, pick leaders, anoint an outcast (whom they eventually kill) and eventually, having secured a food supply and shelter, become both lazy and increasingly vicious.

The Wikipedia article about the book notes, "The semblance of order quickly deteriorates as the majority of the boys turn idle; they give little aid in building shelters, spend their time having fun and begin to develop paranoias about the island." 

Excuse me, but does this sound just a bit like the Tories? They are not taking care of the islanders/Brits, they are failing at housing and food and medical care; indeed, they are selling off the medical care so they can have more money to pay for fun, which is, for them, more unearned income. Indeed, by age 11, the deplorable Jacob Rees-Mogg viewed amassing astonishing wealth as the only fun thing to do in life.

Like the boys on the island, the Tories are happy to be in charge, even though they lack the mental/emotional tools to lead. Mrs. May is a superb and extravagant example, a "fake boy" without even the private school background of tribe-building, and lacking any sort of emotional intelligence one might reasonably expect in a woman; for which see German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The Tories want to be in charge but mainly of not paying their fair share of taxes so that they can have even more goodies. (Yes, I'm speaking of you, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Phillip May, et al). As for paranoias, they are terrified of the Yaxley-Lennons causing an uproar; it strikes me as about the same thing as the island boys being afraid of a few flies buzzing about the head of a pig they had killed--a fear that's self-inflicted, wildly overblown and easily taken care of by removing the head/depriving Yaxleys of airtime.

Cameron channels Lord of the Flies

To curry favour with his tribe, three years ago Cameron unwisely scheduled a referendum about life on the island asking only the most rudimentary, school-boy questions: Do you want to stay in the EU or leave? Or, do you like your chocolate filled or plain? Same thing.

There was no explanation of what staying in the European Union (EU) or leaving it meant. Indeed, considering the appalling state of British education for the last two decades or so, few people actually understood what the EU is. One has to wonder whether Cameron understood. Certainly, he didn't understand that the EU seemed to be--to Brits he had bashed with the useless, needless austerity plan so his government of Tories could have more--like just another level of miserable bureaucracy making them suffer.

Nor was there a minimum level needed to assess the referendum. If 6 of 10 boys said they liked filled chocolates, did that mean the other 4 would not get any plain ones, ever? Should it not have been at least an 8 out of 10 vote to be meaningful? If you allow the margin of difference to be very small, you are inviting both   manipulation (see BeLeave and its criminal acts) and dissatisfaction among the voters that the vote had been either real or meaningful. No one wants to be bound by a close vote--even though (laughing hysterically) this vote wasn't binding. Cameron created open sores, oozing and smelling like the toilets after an Etonian bachelor party.

In his adolescent immaturity, Cameron had ensured that none of the "boys" would be satisfied with the vote or what it produced. Everyone would feel ill-served, both those who had no clear mandate to behave the way the vote suggested, nor those who suspected it had been rigged against them (they were right.) Cameron ensured infighting for as long as the "boys" were unsupervised on the island. He was, to put it mildly, as weak a leader as either of the co-leaders in Golding's book.

The boys on the island are as close an imitation of the bunch of neo-feral Tory politicians as you could possibly imagine. One must wonder if Golding foresaw the ungodly mess the Tories, under the leadership of the perennially boyish David Cameron of the Etonian tribe, have made of their country. It is in flames, figuratively speaking, and it doesn't appear there are any adults in naval vessels coming along to sort it out.

The EU has tried to guide the UK to some semblance of maturity without actually supervising, which is not, despite Leaver belief, any part of the EU mandate. The EU has now given the boys/Tories one last chance to either create island governance that works without killing people, or to leave the islanders to their own devices, unprotected in a hostile world. In short, they can either scrap the referendum's results and beg pardon to consort with the adults--the EU--again, or they can perish by their own pre-adolescent wits on a cold island with nothing left to recommend it.  

Lord of the Flies ends as the boys have set their island aflame. A passing military boat sees the flames and mounts a rescue, whereupon the boys who are still alive revert, in the presence of actual adults, to the pre-adolescent behaviour they had left behind when trying to be fake adults. On the island, they were just like the Tories led by Mrs. May, and in way, way, way over their little heads. Given a decent leader--the rescuer--they reverted to the behaviour of their actual ages, crying and all.

Make no mistake; that is exactly what it has come down to. We must elect a government/force the current government to behave decently toward us and our neighbors and remain a part of the adult group, the EU, or we will perish as a united kingdom; we will devolve into a handful of very small, very unimportant, very lonely and very poor nations. 

This is not fiction, but reality. There is no author waiting to relieve us of our misery with a handful of pacifying words.  THERE IS NO CONVENIENT NAVAL SHIP SAILING BY TO SAVE US.

Our MPs will have to grow up fast or all is lost...and we will be left stranded on an island in the middle of a vast ocean from which storms are more likely to arise than days of calm and bliss, in which food will be difficult to obtain and prepare, in which there will be no new clothing once the clothes worn when we were marooned fall off of us in tatters.
Drawing of Lord of the Flies island: UK, 2020?

Copyright 2019, Laura Harrison McBride

Monday, April 8, 2019

What LEAVERS really want

If you want to know who might be a Leave voter, above are seven good ways to tell. The thing is, of course, what they don't understand is what they want is much more likely to harm them than anyone else.

No. 1: The Death Penalty. People who have a good job, a bit of money for some luxuries, going at least to Benidorm for holidays, are usually quite happy. Why would they kill want to kill anyone for misdeeds when everyone knows there is no such thing as a perfect verdict? They don't, and they are mainly fairy satisfied Remainers. Mainly.

On the other hand, Brexiters are mainly disgruntled failures, people who are angry at what they don't have and can't do. That population produces the Steven Yaxley-Lennons of the world. 

But Brexit has also produced the deplorable Jacob Rees-Moggs who appear to be wealthy (and usually are), but have an astonishing need to have more--MUCH, MUCH MORE--than anyone else. And they are willing to put to death, one way or another, anyone who interferes with their plans. 

Although both the resentful rich and the resentful poor are happy to let their fellow man swing at the end of a noose, it is the first population that contributes the majority of those accused of what would be capital crimes and punishment by death. Go figure. You'd think they'd be aghast at the possibility of the death penalty, considering their usual relationship with the halls of justice. How many times has Yaxley been arrested now? I'd say Y-L, a thug and a very vocal Leaver, is far more likely to end up on death row than Rees-Mogg, his partner in the humane crime of desiring the death penalty.

No. 2. Dark blue passports. Someone told Leavers that's the colour passports used to be; they are afraid to encounter other cultures, so most of them never had any sort of passport so they don't actually know. And, since passports have been burgundy for so long, neither did their parents. 

Here's the problem: The old passports were not blue, but black. Wrong again, Brexiteers! 

No. 3. Selling goods in pounds and ounces. I won't argue that I wouldn't like that, too. But I have a reason: I lived in the US until I got my Irish citizenship about ten years ago, so I hadn't had the previous 30 years to get used to grams, etc. But frankly, IT JUST ISN'T THAT BIG A DEAL. I have a little cheat sheet on my fridge so I can convert things before I go shopping. I'm assuming most Brexiters can read, so they could do the same thing. Hardly worth losing 30% of the nation's industry because some fool isn't clever enough to find a metric conversion cheat sheet.

No. 4. Corporal punishment in schools. The very population that is going to be nutritionally at risk, even more so than now when the Tories have cut school lunch programs for those in need, is more interested in having the teachers paddle their kids than in having the community feed them. It's nuts. Just plain nuts. Plus, I have to ask how well that corporal punishment worked before; I'm fairly certain that the older toffs who went to Eton, etc., got paddled a bit, and look at them; all they really learnt was how to steal from the rest of us and buy passports in EU countries for after they--with Brexiteer assistance--wreck the UK.

No. 5. Traditional incandescent light bulbs. Again, Leavers vote against their own best interests. Incandescent light bulbs break more easily and more often than modern lighting, such as LEDs. And they are more expensive to run. Why would those who stand to lose the most money by the disappearance of jobs in Brexit want to spend more on lighting their homes? The only answer I can arrive at is that they can then use the electricity expense as a reason not to read, thereby ensuring they remain as ignorant as they were three years ago, despite reams being written about the damage Brexit will do.

N0. 6. Smoking in pubs and restaurants. This is my favourite. I assume it applies to all public places. Here's a question: Did you ever go to the cinema in IRELAND before it joined the EU? It was hard to see the screen through the fug, and you could just get up and go directly to your oncologist to begin the treatment for your lung cancer when the evening was over. I assume it was similar in the UK, although I had the good sense only to visit the UK once before it joined the EU, and a visit to the cinema was not on my itinerary.

I frankly have no problem--well not much problem--with people who want to smoke, as long as they don't force me to breathe the carcinogens and god knows what they spew forth with it from their lungs. I would rather not have my tax money wasted on preventable ailments, such as lung cancer from smoking, but I suppose it would be inhumane to ban smokers from lung cancer treatment just because they caused it (usually) themselves. 

No. 7. Pre-decimal currency. This one is really mind-boggling. What the hell is a farthing? Or a shilling? Do we need to go all the way to half-groats? Guineas? Half-Guineas? Florins?

The division of pounds under the old system was not based on 100, but on 240. Excuse me, but can people do that math in their heads anymore, after three decades of computerised cash registers, etc?  

Now we have pounds and pence; 100 pence to a pound. Easy. Indeed, easier even than a similar system of 100 pennies to a dollar in the US. In the US, a 25-penny piece is called a quarter, a ten-penny coin is a dime, and a five-penny coin is a nickel. In the UK, one has 50p, 20p, 10p and 5p coins, and the odd pence. No additional nomenclature.

The Brexiters say they want their sovereignty back. As it happens, the UK still has its sovereigns, if one is using antique language and denominations, and not the euro. Although the UK lost the plethora of names for oddments of currency,
one would have to 
question the logic of people who want the simplicity of pounds and ounces when it comes to cabbages and cod also desiring the convoluted and nomenclature-heavy "old currency."  In any case, the EU had nothing to do with the revamping of UK currency; that was totally the UK's doing. But remember, too, we are dealing here with a population that wants to boycott the EU elections in protest against the possibility that there will not be a Brexit.  

Hello!  Anyone home? If you want to have a Brexit, then it would behoove you to vote early and often for Brexit Party MEP (Member of the European Parliament) candidates. You might be able to convince them to work themselves out of a job by pushing for Brexit.

You know, like Nigel Farage, who was only able to win one election of the eleven the ran in, and that was for MEP. He showed up for work barely 30 percent of the he didn't DO the work...but he darn well took his paycheck.

That single fact leads one to believe Farage might not have wanted Brexit at all; he just wanted an excuse to keep taking his paycheck without doing any work, and to run on his own, as a candidate supported by a spanking new party, the Brexit Party, assuming he could win there, if nowhere else. 

Indeed, it seems more logical than Leavers wanting capital punishment, corporal punishment, and cancer punishment--to name just three things on their cockamamie wish list.


Copyright 2019, Laura Harrison McBride

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Theresa May and the Radio Lady

The author  (left) about fifteen years ago, with Geraldine in front of Geraldine's house.

I wanted to go to sleep. I really did. It had been a demanding day, dealing with the myriad personalities at the Barter Theatre, the state theatre of Virginia, where I was the media director. I hadn't known that Actor's Equity contracts REQUIRED that actors be fed by the company during any block of work longer than four hours. They'd been fed; the marketing assistant had taken care of that. But I had no idea they were so delicate, like a sickly baby. OK. Maybe that's a metaphor I don't need to investigate any more.

And, of course, there were also  the media to deal with, although next to some of the actors, they were easy. And the Producing Artistic Director. He was extraordinary. And I'll leave that right where it is.

  So, anyway, it was about 11 at night, a lovely late summer night in southwest Virginia, and I had opened all the windows and crawled into bed. Into lovely new sheets I had just bought for my lovely new bed. Beautiful sheets. Egyptian cotton with just enough embroidery to be elegant. They were cool, and smooth, and almost as welcoming as the 400 thread count sheets in a fine hotel.
And then I heard it, a couple of voices yakking on and on and on about car repair.

It wasn't hard to find the source of the disruption to my beautiful, healing beauty rest. The racket was coming from a second-floor window in a house diagonally across the street.
It was a nice, old brick house, although the front porch was piled high with boxes and bags with a bamboo blind drawn down to cover them. Sort of. 

But it was too late to knock on the door, and I didn't want to get dressed again anyway. So I dug earplugs out of my "travel stuff" drawer and finally went to sleep.

The next day, I left a note on the door of the talking house as no one answered my knock. I asked for the person to please leave me a note with name and phone number as I wanted to speak about something.

When I got home that evening, a note was at my door with a name--Geraldine--and a phone number.  Without delay, I phoned. I identified myself.

And then I got a yelp of  delight. Yes, really, delight. She said she recognized my name--she had loved reading my articles in the local newspaper (I hadn't been on staff there for more than two years, since I had returned to freelancing, BEFORE taking the theatre gig.) And then she told me I was a lovely lady and she so enjoyed watching me walk my cute little dog in the neighborhood (where, as it happens, I had moved during a rainy spell, and so had been spared the nighttime radio for a couple of weeks, although not the dog-walking.)

Well. How does one, on the heels of all that flattery, say "turn down your effing radio; the whole neighborhood doesn't want to hear Click and Clack at bedtime." That's what the local NPR station played, someone told me; I guess it was cheap to broadcast at that time of night.  Or something. But at least it wasn't the symphonic music platter spinner whose voice put me to sleep when he was on in the daytime.  On the other hand....

Well, anyway, I never did ask Geraldine to turn down the radio. Indeed, we became friends. She was retired, from what I never figured out, and was divorced from a person whose name she never uttered without an accompanying curse.  

Geraldine collected EVERYTHING. The back seat of her car was exactly like her front porch, the front passenger seat being kept clear in case of, what else, a passenger.  

Geraldine read all the time, and introduced me to the Big Stone Gap books of Adriana Trigiani by simply giving me a copy of Big Stone Gap.  They are great books. And, oddly, Trigiani is, despite the Italian surname, a native of Big Stone Gap, a hard-luck mountain town in the Southern Appalachians not far from Abingdon, VA, where I worked and Bristol, VA/TN, where I lived. 

As much as books, Geraldine also loved theatre, although she claimed she could no longer afford to go.

As an executive for Barter Theatre, I had access from time to time to tickets to use as I saw fit, above and beyond the purely promotional.  Giving them to friends was not discouraged; after all, friends have friends who might like plays.

When we had a month with something on stage I knew Geraldine would love, I gave her two tickets so she and another neighbor could attend a matinee. Fine and dandy.

The day she was coming, she phoned the box office and asked if they could ask me to meet her at the theatre; the executive offices were about a mile away on a big campus outside of town. I could, and did. 

I must say, Geraldine was resplendent that afternoon in an astonishing collection of silk garments, most embroidered and some with feathers, maybe some thread of gold, about two pounds of jewelry (a mix of real and costume, I think), her hair done up dramatically and vibrant red lipstick to complete the "evening in the afternoon" look.

I was standing an the main exit door from the auditorium as the play let out. She came up to me, hugged me, extolled the production and thanked me profusely for the tickets. Right behind her, unexpectedly, was the Producing Artistic Director. 

Why? He was NEVER there after the performance, only before when he gave the Curtain Speech. Why today...when I had invited my most extreme friend to use my free tickets? Yes, I was worried--like any asshole--about the effect of Geraldine's over-the-topness on my professional future.

Geraldine spied him. She wrapped an arm around me, pulling me directly into his path. She loudly proclaimed that his hiring me was the very best thing anyone had ever done at the theatre, in the town, the county, the two contiguous states (Virginia and Tennesse), the nation and the world since Moses was a boy.

He took it well. I....well, I had got pretty good at hiding embarrassment, having been the theatre reviewer/business writer/section front writer locally for years, and I was a damn Yankee, to boot. I just laughed whenever a local throwback who objected to my reviews yelled, "Yankee, go home." Or when I got hate mail. Or even when the Producing Artistic Director's incompetent predecessor had declared me persona non grata after a particularly scathing review. Thereafter, I had to buy tickets under an assumed name as he had threatened to bar the door. Yes, his productions were THAT bad.

But what does this have to do with Theresa May, for the past three years developing into the worst Prime Minister the UK, now my home, has ever had to endure?

My dear friend Geraldine--I should say late friend, as she passed on several years ago, much to my dismay--was a bit nutty. Clearly. 

The collecting/hoarding. The wild outfits. The generous gifts; she also occasionally left packages of KFC at my door if she had gone there for lunch, as she knew I liked fried chicken. The books, of course, quite a few over the years. And any gift came, always, with a lengthy discourse on current events--she listened to NPR 24/7--written round and round and back and front on envelopes from mail she had received.  In a dozen years, I never got a note on a fresh piece of paper, only on used envelopes.

Geraldine was delightfully nutty, though, and in fact had been so for years. A friend of mine who had grown up in the house behind hers, fronting on the next street, is the person who had told me she was called the Radio Lady by the neighborhood, as she had been doing the window thing for decades.

Theresa May is the flip side of Geraldine. I believe she's wacky, but not in a harmless and amusing and sometimes generous and embarrassing way. I concluded that quite a long time ago, probably less than six months into her three-year (so far) reign of terror. Geraldine was very smart, however, while Theresa May is arguably very stupid. Look how many times the EU has had to tell her NO; I've seen dead road-kill that can be assumed to be smarter than that having had to wits to try to cross the road.

What got me to comparing Theresa May, loathsome creature, to Geraldine, lovable eccentric extraordinaire, was the outfit May wore on the day of her last-ditch night-time flight to Strasbourg so that the EU could tell her no AGAIN.

The outfit was maniacal. It was frighteningly revelatory of the mind of its wearer. It bespoke the inability to mesh any two elements into a coherent whole. It was a costume looking for a character, a slightly evil, unalterably deranged character.  Totally inappropriate for the governmental daytime appearance to which she wore it; totally mismatched as to jewelry and gloves. And the hat!  I know cartoonists who would have been glad of that idea for one of their more cockamamie characters. It wasn't Prime Ministerial; it was ridiculous.

I leave it to you. Is this the respectful, coherent outfit of the head of a major world government? An outfit that displays gravitas? Or even rudimentary common sense? Notice, I'm not going to even mention fashion sense, as that's a bridge WAY too far.

It's the outfit of a woman who has lost the plot, but hasn't the wit and wisdom to behave in a humane manner toward others, or to admit her myriad errors. She is unable acknowledge reality--she has failed, miserably, massively and often--and resign.
Can Theresa May save the United Kingdom? Yes, but only by revoking Article 50. Which she will not do. Because she is nuts. 

But worse--unlike my humane, kindly, intellectual hoarder friend--because she is unspeakably evil, and means to take a sovereign nation, once a world leader, down to perdition with her.

Unspeakably evil.

Unspeakably inappropriate outfit for an official government engagement, but totally representative of May's inabilities both cultural and political. She is, frankly, the biggest insult and greatest danger the UK has faced since WWII.

Copyright 2019, Laura Harrison McBride

Friday, March 8, 2019

What's a Cultural Belief Cage?


There are several names for what both Trumpanzees and Brexiters experience in their brains, where normal people see facts and weigh them before deciding on a belief and, indeed, sometimes change their beliefs when presented with new facts. Most of us know the earth is not flat. But bloody hell, if there aren't some Flat Earthers around. Astonishing, really.

A friend of mine, writer, singer, New Thought minister, and spiritual advisor/guru, Ed Lemberger, developed the term "cultural belief cage" to explain "a collective consciousness of people stuck in a belief that just isn't true to the point where the entire group mind is stuck in a 'cage,' and can't see out of this cage, even when presented with overwhelming evidence that the belief being held by the group mind is not in line with truth."

I'm quite sure Ed wouldn't want me to foster divisiveness with this idea, so I'll give you only two examples, one of Trumpanzee caca in the US and one of Corbynista caca in the UK.

Yabba dabba dabba...said the monkey to the chimp


Trumpanzees' belief: MFOTUS is a smart and successful businessman because he built Trump Tower and other stuff and wrote The Art of the Deal and made lots of money and became president.

Facts: Trump is so stupid, even before running for president, he had his goon squad threaten every school he ever attended if they ever released his grades. So one must figure Daddy's money bought whatever, if any, diplomas MFOTUS has.

He built Trump Tower on OPM and with illegal labour he basically enslaved. He had a ghostwriter for The Art of the Deal who has recently denied that ANYTHING in the book is true, except possibly Trump's name. BTW, there is NOTHING in it for the writer by doing this, because book sales will decrease, and so will the writer's income. He simply felt truth was called for, however belatedly.

Trump would have made more money, according to Forbes magazine, if he had put the money his father gave him in an investment trust managed by someone else. He went bankrupt seven times, including on a casino. A fucking casino. My dog could make money running a casino. Pandering to an addiction is synonymous with making tons of loot.

Now I shall cross the pond to use a liberal figure from the UK to explain the crap liberals get in their heads and while, adhering to collective consciousness, they then believe regardless of facts.

My socialist dictator wannabe right or wrong 

Corbynistas' belief: Jeremy Corbyn should be the next Prime Minister because he will save the working class.
Sheep and goats

Facts: Jeremy Corbyn has gone out of his way NOT to save the working know, those of us who depend on jobs to put a roof over our heads, clothes on our backs, and food on our table. He has a priori trashed the class and party (Labour) he is sworn to serve by being first a closet Brexiter, then an outed Brexiter, and now a compromising (maybe)  Brexiter). He is now and has always been in FAVOR of the UK leaving its biggest market, the EU, which is responsible for the UK becoming the world's 5th largest economy (recalling how TINY the UK is, it's amazing). He neglected to note that companies that want to sell into the EU seamlessly were happy to locate in the UK; now they have left in droves and relocated in nations staying in the EU--Holland, France, etc.

The reason Corbyn is in favor of leaving the EU is because he thinks that's what the people want, despite LABOUR members being steadfastly against leaving once they saw their jobs going bye-bye. But he thinks he can be a socialist leader and somehow--hey, presto, without need of the industry that has left, never to return*--make the working class prosperous once again. In short, he has demonstrated enormous greed and stupendous stupidity.

In addition, he is arguably anti-Semitic, having given awards to Hamas (go ahead, try to negate that one.)

He presents himself as a man of the people, but with a net worth of 5 million quid himself, and a wife who owns a company worth 10 million quid, and with one of his sons working for him and thus sucking up public monies, I contend with some confidence that he is EVERY BIT as eager to avoid EU profit-offshoring rules coming into effect in April 2019 as any Conservative (Tory) you can name.

All the facts notwithstanding, Trumpanzees and Corbynistas are religious in their defense of their clay-footed heroes, ruthless in contradicting anyone who would point out to them that they are falsely believing in untruths. Lies.

Are there any benefits to cultural belief cage beliefs?


I contend that both Trumpanzees and Corbynistas are stuck in cultural belief cages. My question is: Why? Who would want to live their life based on a lie? I could, for example, decide to believe that my oven wasn't a piece of crap that belches foul odors, whether or not it has recently been cleaned, throughout my house. I could believe that by CHOOSING to ignore the facts. I could. But I couldn't. A new oven is in order and on order.

I would say I'm as sane as the next guy and saner than most. I look for facts to support my beliefs (that fucking oven stinks, and even Simon knows  it. See? Two of us with the same belief...but we both base it on a fact, so it's not part of some micro-cultural belief cage.) I cannot imagine, for example, saying Bill Clinton was a horrible president because he had some hanky-panky with an intern. He was actually a good president who had some hanky-panky with an intern, and the facts of his terms of office support that belief. NOTHING supports the belief that he was a bad president (a job involving politics, not hanky-panky) because regardless of who was under his desk, he did the nation's business and did it pretty well.

So maybe that's it; ignorant populations conflate conduct in one arena with conduct in another.

But, you might say, priests and altar boys. Not the same at all. Monica L. was no altar girl; she was an adult and chose her course of action.

Town sheep
So back to Trump and Corbyn: Both of them are using lies that are germane to their jobs to trick the population. Bill Clinton, literally, did "not have sex with that woman." He had some foreplay, but they didn't ask him that. Self-incrimination is not demanded; just truthful answers to a question.

But Trump and Corbyn...and lies? Trump has been caught in at least 9,000 lies, to date, all germane to his supposed work for the people. AND he has admitted to--nay bragged about--more hanky-panky than the fairly normal Bill Clinton has even dreamt of, if he has dreamt of it at all. 

Corbyn? His entire political career is a lie. He could not, and I think cannot, become a socialist saviour of a nation that is firmly a capitalist democracy and was working fairly well that way (although some tweaking was certainly needed.) It is not 1917; he cannot fling the Romanovs out of the country, wreck its infrastructure if any, and recreate the nation through cruelty and viciousness to match his cockamamie socialist standard-bearer pipe dreams.

So what draws people into a cultural belief cage? 

The only possible explanations I can see are these three: lunacy, desperately inferior education, or an overwhelming need to belong to a group of people who think something so bizarre that you'll be accorded some sort of fame for joining it. 
Dolly, the famous first cloned sheep

Copyright 2019, Laura Harrison McBride


* At this point, both industries and governments rightfull distrust the UK, whose politidcans nave made a stunning bollocks of wht was always going to be a bad job to begin with. They have saved it form being a bad move, adn lodged it with the most boneheaded activigties of any legally constituted govennment anywhere in gteh world any time in history.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Brexit: Bringing out the worst in all of us

From The Times article referenced below.
This morning, a Facebook friend posted this article:

No-deal Brexit threatens cull of 10m lambs

The post immediately gathered the following comments (among others):
"That will not bother me, really. The lambs would die eventually anyway! Food, food.....
"So the Lambs die a little earlier.
"Are we supposed to be upset that lambs will die a few months earlier than they would normally? It's a shame that they are ever needlessly killed
"Panic panic! scaremongering again
"Go vegan
"This is scaremongering, people should eat less meat and from better sources though"
With few exceptions, I don't think those commenting harshly regarding a lamb cull on that post have any room whatsoever to complain of the doctrinaire actions of Theresa May or the rest of the Brexit moron contingent.

It is not their place to toss out blithe statements about lambs dying earlier than usual; it is not their right to determine how farmers should farm or who should eat what. It is inhumane in the extreme to so airily dismiss the concerns of the farmers who feed the nation; it is despicable to dismiss the USELESS sacrifice of anything. In ordinary circumstances, lambs are sacrificed, to be sure, but they become food so children may live and grow, not wasted carcasses chucked into a landfill. Those exported for money become part of the prosperity of the nation. Farm families depend on the rearing and sale of those lambs for their own lives.

To each his/her own

It's like abortion; If you don't want one, don't have one. 
If those commenting object to eating meat, then they shouldn't eat it. But they have no right, none whatsoever, to cheapen the desperate concerns of British farmers nor to load the rest of us with their vegan or vegetarian demands without knowing shit from Shinola* about any of it. 

Possibly they would be astonished to know that the Dalai Lama eats meat; he was told to by his doctor to add some meat to his diet or else he would die. If the Dalai Lama has the good sense to keep his very spiritual body and soul together by using some of the bounty of the earth for that purpose, who the hell are they to dismiss the useless killing of millions of baby animals and the destruction of the livelihoods of people working to feed them? Farming is one of the hardest jobs on earth, being both physically and mentally demanding, dependent on uncontrollable variables such as weather, and those who farm being witlessly reviled by those who work indoors and think they are holier than everyone else.

May disgusts me for her doctrinaire actions and cockamamie ideologies, but intractable animus against anyone not like themselves on the other side of the left-wing/right-wing fence is equally despicable. It is aggressive, in the extreme, for vegan/vegetarians who claim such pinnacles of spiritual attainment to witlessly bash those who work the land, who raise--and often slaughter--animals for food. Frankly, I think anyone who has the strength of mind/heart/soul to do that is a far more complete human being than the rest of us. I doubt the Dalai Lama would revile those who raise and slaughter the food that keeps him alive; I think he would bless and pray for them, knowing what it could cost them personally.

Eating out of separate pots, happily

I have a vegan friend married to a vegetarian; neither bashes others about the head and neck with their beliefs. They simply find vegan/vegetarian restaurants in which to meet for a meal; if you dine at their house, you'll be eating vegetables. If you dine at my house, you will be eating either a vegan or meat-based entree according to your beliefs (and because I own more than one pot and I respect the desires of others), accompanied by vegetables.

I am completely willing to accommodate people's dietary preferences, whether they have made the choice for health or spiritual reasons.

I am totally unwilling to accommodate carnivore-bashing by holier-than-thou vegans, regardless of how they arrived at their decision and especially when they cavalierly ignore the desperate straights the UK government is forcing animal husbandry into. And, of course, the rest of us will be desperate, too, when the ruined farmers go on the dole and we have little to eat, and no National Health Service to save our hides at least until some ships from the US bearing Clorox chicken and cancerous beef, have reached the docks.

So wake up, you pitiful doctrinaire morons. You are not Theresa May and have not even her imaginary mandate to make it all about you. 

It is all about US. All of us. Vegans, vegetarians, carnivores, pescatarians, pastafarians, fruitvores and any other feeding style you can think of.

* Shinola is the US name of a brand of shoe polish.

Copyright 2019, Laura Harrison McBride

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Are Tories and Republicans the scum of the earth?

NeoNazis patrolling US border against poor people from Mexico seeking a better life.

Volunteers helping refugees make a new life in the United States.

A few days ago, a friend--a journalist of good repute and an old friend--posted an article by a respected political analyst, Arthur C. Brooks, on his Facebook page. The article tried to explain why current politics is so rancorous, with very little middle ground being sought or found, and one out of six Americans no longer speaking with a family member or good friend because of politics. No longer do people say, "Well, it's a Republican (Conservative) idea, but I can accept it because it delivers X,Y,Z" or, "It's a Democratic (Labour) program, but I'm willing to pay for it because it helps with A,B,C."

Politics has turned into a winner-take-all game, with the losers pounding sand on the sidelines instead of working constructively with the honourable opposition, as mainly happened in the past in two-party systems such as those of the US and the UK.

The article called this disconnect
“motive attribution asymmetry," or the underlying concept that the other party's motives are evil while one's own are good. And indeed, if this were true, it would be relatively easily solved. 


There IS inherent asymmetry in one side thinking that locking young children in cages is OK because their parents--penniless and hopeless--wanted to invade the US and putatively become welfare junkies, while the other side thinks it is one's duty as a prosperous nation to accept and help those who have less. There IS no common ground there. None at all. 

Nor is there in the UK, where a great number of the citizens--and an alarming number  of elected representatives (Members of Parliament)--think it is fine for UK citizens to retire in the EU and be accepted, but god forbid anyone from the EU should choose to live in the UK and expect acceptance. Indeed, EU citizens who have lived in the UK for 50 years, working and paying taxes, are now being forced to register like any criminal. 

No, sorry, there is NO common ground between the humane attitudes of the EU, which the UK is now planning to leave in the most hostile possible way, and the circle-the-Range Rovers attitude of UK politicians and a great many citizens. (Note, please: Land Rover, maker of the highest end SUV, the Range Rover, is planning to take its marbles to the EU to play on a much more fertile life and business ground, taking jobs and economic expansion with it, and leaving UK citizens once employed there, and at many other high-end manufacturers leaving because of Brexit, infinitely worse off than they are now. And for years to come; what intelligent CEO would move a company to a nation isolating itself with self-harm aforethought from the great European market the EU created?)

No, there is no common ground to explore. Not unless it is tough love, of the sort Nancy Pelosi--bless her--is handing out, preventing the faux President from doing his worst as often as she can. Taking away a person's inalienable human rights because you dislike them for some cockamamie reason (Trump/Republicans) and wanting to protect those who have experienced disaster in their lives, for whatever reason (Pelosi/Democrats), are two very, very different things. And a couple of semi-heartfelt hugs by those on the humane side of the argument will not fix it. The only thing that will fix it is loving those being abused enough to insist that--whatever it takes--the abusers desist. Whatever it takes. Maybe if they desist, a hug can occur. Until then, cold shoulder to the abusers, hugs to those abused.

The idea that such gulfs of humanity as those between Trumpanzees and the best of the Democrats (or between Tories and a few much more decent parties in the UK) can be breached and repaired by a touchy-feely dedication to warm-heartedness and good humour is juvenile at best. One might have thought Arthur C. Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute, would have eschewed the "Mr. Rogers" school of political assessment and negotiation for something a bit more worthy of his intellect and less likely to see the basically trusting left wing further mauled by the intransigent viciousness of today's Putin-led right wing.

I don't see any common ground to work with at the moment except for the fact that we are all homo sapiens, although some are more sapiens than others. 
I think it is more to the point to attribute the hardened vicious behaviours of such as the Republicans and Tories to the unfortunate result of natural selection; the genes most likely to reproduce are those favouring aggression simply because those who possess such genes will live after a fight to the death more often than those who are concerned more with compromise than with victory; the aggressive winners will be able to procreate more often with the fertile females of the species. And yes, over time, the animals--including humans--with the aggressive genes will tend to outnumber those with less intimidating ways of being. (Click here for one of dozens of articles about the primacy of aggressive behaviours based on natural selection.)
So basically, we've fucked ourselves into this impasse, and fucked we damn well are. The only way to be more fucked is to let the right wing of politics get away with it.

Patriotism: Bogus concept employed by evil people

  I was never a patriotic American. I believe the US constitution is the greatest political document ever written, and is capable of--if f...