Barriers

It was a choice she never wanted to make. In fact, choice wasn’t really the word for it. She had to do it. No-one in their right mind would give up a family, home, lifetime of work, a successful career as an engineer and a middle class job.  Unless they had no choice.

She thought back to the ones she had left behind, lost forever to the incessant bombardment. For what? A few square feet of a town that had been raised from the desert over a period of two thousand years, and now razed to rubble and would soon become sand again. That was why she had left. She had no-one left to save but herself.

How ironic that she was now standing on sand again, although this time with the sea foaming between her toes.

She looked up at the fence. So this was what salvation looked like?

170719_Barriers

~Richard

May Day, Kitchener redux and Voting.

May Day Celebration isn’t a big thing in the USA. We don’t celebrate it as the start of Spring and there’s certainly no National Holiday for us on what is largely International Worker’s Day in many countries in the Western Hemisphere. In fact, it usually just passes us by as a regular working day. This year, though,  many are talking to the streets, mainly protesting the current state of affairs in the government and the recent policies of the US Executive.

I find all this latter day engagement in the system fascinating. It is interesting to see just how much politics is being talked about these days compared to only a few short years back. This is a good thing as perhaps more people are finally taking active interest in the way they are being governed.

170501_KitchenerVOTE.jpg

That being said, my point today is to highlight the still pathetic engagement that voters generally have in our Western democracies. It is staggering that we pontificate about installing democracies onto other cultures, rightly or wrongly, and belittle anyone who does not espouse our values and yet, when it comes around to election time quite often fewer than half of eligible voters actually turn up to the polls to actually make their mark in the box.

The next big election in my little transatlantic world is in the UK next month and I could not but help create this poster based on one of the many (in)famous WWI recruiting posters put out with Lord Kitchener’s prominent mustachioed visage.

My perspective – get out there and do your democratic duty by casting your vote – even if it means writing in someone else’s name because you don’t like any candidates. If you don’t make this small effort what right do you have to even comment on our government?

~Richard

St. George’s Day and a lesson from the French?

Last year I wrote this post relating to the patron saint of England, St. George. One year on and as Britain is stumbling forward through its self-inflicted exit from the European Union, I see little change in the mood of Little Britain, at least from what I read in the media.

Today, on the “other side of the channel” as we tend to call it, we saw the potential for a change in Europe as Emmanuel Macron finally gave Marine Le Pen a good run for her money and established that the center left candidate may actually stand a chance to win in a two-horse race for the Presidency for La Republique. Perhaps we will see a tide change and just maybe this will have a knock-on effect on the results of the snap election that Prime Minister Theresa May has called back in the UK. After all it may not be so much about St. George killing the dragon anymore but rather that the slumbering dragon, in the form of the disenfranchised populace who weren’t motivated to cast their democratic vote last time, will actually see that their opinions do count and turn up at the polling stations to make their mark.

Perhaps it is time for the dragon to roar…

170423_StGeorge.jpg
~Richard

Haiku: Alternative Facts

~ Alternative Facts ~

 

Small child tells a lie;

But to people in power

they are but alt-facts.

170122_AltFact.jpg

~Richard

Haiku: Hacking

I played around with four different definitions of the same term in this one:

 

~ Hacking ~

 

Coping with a cough

or a bucolic horse ride

now wins elections…

170105_haiku-hacking

~Richard

Vote Like a Beast

How I wish the late great Frank Zappa was here to see this, and poke fun at the system. He was a great defender of democracy. In his absence all I can do is link to his video, with such an important message:

Now VOTE!

~Richard

Gunpowder Treason

For any British readers today is a significant date, for it is the day when, in 1605 Robert Catesby’s plot to destroy the English Parliament using gunpowder was foiled. One of the conspirators, Guy Fawkes was caught red handed guarding barrels of gunpowder that had been placed under the House of Lords so that it would kill everyone inside. The plot uncovered, Guy Fawkes was subjected to terrible torture and, along with his co-conspirators, executed.
Subsequently, throughout Britain the public have celebrated this date as “Guy Fawkes Night” or “Bonfire Night” when large community bonfires are built, usually with an effigy (“guy”) set atop, and fireworks are set as celebration. The ancient rhyme is also recited, or at least it was when I was a kid:

Remember, remember, the 5th of November
The Gunpowder Treason and plot;
I know of no reason why Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.

161105_gunpowderplot

We always looked forward to the fireworks, the huge bonfire, and also the tradition of children making their own guys and then attempting to collect a “penny for the guy” in order to be able to raise cash to buy fireworks. I don’t think this happens so much anymore, at least the children buying fireworks part.

Another more modern development is the use of current figures of hate on the bonfires. Ironically, the British Prime Minister has been the target on several occasions, and I recall Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair being featured, but often there are international guys too, such as foreign “dignitaries” who have particularly struck a negative cord with the British populace.

One of the oldest and largest Guy Fawkes Festivals is the Lewes Bonfire Night Celebration which takes place in the tows, East Sussex. Here there are several competing societies that plan their effigies for months and compete in a parade followed by a series of bonfires.

As an American citizen, of British heritage, I can only remark on how fitting that this should be celebrated a mere 3 days ahead of US election day 2016, a situation that has not escaped the teams at Lewes in their choice of effigies to burn this year.

~Richard

Why you should vote for me as 8th Grade Class President

“Fellow students, I stand in front of you this morning to ask that you use your vote wisely and vote for me as your 8th grade class President for Washington Middle School. Why, you may ask, should I cast my vote for you when the is another candidate to choose from? What makes you so special?

Well, I’m standing in front of you now to tell you why.

Frankly, I’m the best person, and that’s why you should vote for me! I’ve got your back, unlike my opponent who is clearly part of the establishment. You just have to look at her to see how the system is rigged so that that she just assumes she is going to win and then collude with the school administration to keep you in your place. With all her previous experience in the debating club and running the bake sale to raise money for the school you’d think she had your interests at heart, but is it true? I ask you, when she helped with the crossing guard was she really doing it for the good of the school or was there an ulterior motive behind this seemingly compassionate move? I’m not saying there was, I’m just asking you to consider it.

Also, we recently found that her attendance record hasn’t been 100%, she was removed from school early due to “doctors appointments” on two occasions this year alone! And, I know she was excused from gym only last week! You just have to ask yourself – does she really have the stamina to run for this office?

And if you think that’s all, you’re mistaken. Supporters of mine also found several pieces of correspondence from her family to the school office asking about the test scores, how we are being assessed academically this year, and even questioning the number of “snow days” we may have! They also tried to get the school to change her elective from photography to pottery, even though she had started the course! This sort of manipulation of the machinery of our education is simply unacceptable!

This corrupt behavior obviously means that my opponent is simply unfit to be your 8th grade Class President.

By contrast, I will ensure that we have ice cream every day at lunch time, which will be paid for by the teachers, and that we win all football games from now on. Don’t ask me how, we’ll just do it!

So vote for me and I’ll make 8th Grade great again.

And, by the way, anyone that says I was seen kissing Lucy over the summer at the pool is simply a liar who wants to besmirch my great name.”

vote4

If this sort of approach was used in school I would expect the student’s teacher to coach them on how to deliver a speech using reasoned argument, logic and facts, rather than spouting rhetoric and vague insinuations. Yet, as we enter the final days of this hideously drawn out circus show that we call the 2016 Presidential Race, all I see is similar negativity, schoolyard finger-pointing, and insubstantial pseudo-arguments with almost no let up – from both sides.

All I can say is I cannot wait for it to be over, but most importantly: PLEASE GET OUT and VOTE on November 8th, otherwise you have no right to complain about the outcome on Wednesday!  

~Richard

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