Friday, October 20, 2017

What Happened

20th October 2017

Not to keep harping on about women's issues, though why shouldn't I? A few days ago, I watched an interview with Hillary Clinton by BBC's  Matt Frei who suggested that Clinton lost the presidential election because she had overstepped herself. She had been "too ambitious," and should have been satisfied with her good job as Secretary of State and not gone for the presidency. Then Joe Biden would have won the presidency and the world wouldn't have a psychological mess of a human being issuing orders from the Oval Office.

To which just allow me to let out a sigh. I shouldn't be surprised - It is the BBC, after all, an entity that operates something like a Hollywood hierarchy with a boss that just happens in this case to be the British government.  I wasn't surprised, but how often can you hear the same ridiculous argument hashed up and rehashed before a whole lot of spittal and air and groans come shooting out of you? To Hillary's great credit, she did call Frei out on it, replying that men never get called out for being too ambitious. To which I say, "Duh!"

When I googled "too ambitious," Hillary Clinton's picture actually popped up.
Political satirist, Bill Maher, not the greatest friend to women, often repeats that though Hillary Clinton was not arguably the best candidate for the times, he cannot begin to make sense of the extent of the hatred currently levelled at this woman.
Hillary Clinton left her job as secretary of state with a 69% approval rating. So, what happened? Here's what happened: the woman persisted.
The level of misogyny at the bottom of this dark pit is unfathomable. Glancing through the comments below the video of the Frei interview, the term "bitch" comes up repeatedly, as does Killary, Shit, Rapist, and, tellingly, "evil witch."
She's not a young woman, but then if she had been, she might not have been a threat. She would have been a hot young woman, like brain-dead Palin, that men could fit neatly into the grab-bag of things they feel above. No, she was a woman of about their mother's age with the audacity to think she could rule arguably (I suppose) the most powerful country on earth. The audacity of it!

Most of all, we women should be ashamed. We swallowed the bad press hook line and sinker and thought there was something to the argument that Clinton was just as bad as Trump. It was we white women who sunk her presidency. It has to do with the phenomenon that makes women like Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May actually worse than the men they replace in the hierarchical structure. For all intents and purposes, we took on the male mantel and voted with the perceived victors. Hillary's great flaws were being old and not being a knuckle head.
I wasn't even a great Hillary supporter. I could have gone for Bernie any day. But now that the dust has settled and we have a petulant child at the top of the male hierarchy that is politics in Washington, let's call a spade a spade: Women, we let down our kind bigly. White women, who have been trying to be heard in this culture since its inception,  let themselves down in the 2016 presidential election. Let's start with that.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Timed Out

13th October 2017

There's a line in the musical, Falsettos, sung by a woman whose life has been completely upended by an unexpected announcement from her husband: "I'm tired of all the happy men who rule the world." That's the first line of the song, uttered while she still has some composure. By the end of the song, "men" changes to the "silly childish jerks" who rule the world.

I love men, don't get me wrong.  Without them, life would be a colourless rainbow. But they shouldn't be in charge. It's as simple as that. They've had over five thousand years, have made an unqualified mess, and it's time for a regime change.
Women make up over fifty percent of the world's population, so why do we have to be just tired of all the childish jerks that rule the world? Nine out of ten murders are committed by men (though women are more likely to kill themselves - ha!); 92% of sexual abusers of children are men; Albert Einstein's quote that "Older men start wars but younger men fight them," still implies that war is, well, a male thing.
Women need to stand up. Wake up. It's like this Gary Larson cartoon.

We don't have to eat grass. We don't have to put up with the minority party of happy childish jerks who rule the world. We need to change it.

Friday, October 6, 2017


29th September 2017

In a blurb on the cover of my book, a bestselling author says, "Anyone who enjoys the work of Diana Gabaldon will adore this book." While any author is grateful for the endorsement of a more established writer, I actually think the opposite of this comment is true: chances are if you enjoy the Outlander series, you have a different taste in literature than my book is going to satisfy.  That is not to denigrate Gabaldon, and who could argue with the kind of worldwide sales she has seen? I don't think she would mind belonging to the "bodice ripper"genre (as her TV series based on the books and which she provides consultation for, goes to town on), but that is not where my book belongs.
What Gabaladon and I do have in common is that we are highlighting an era (any era) in Scottish history that until very, very recently, children, such as myself, sitting in Scottish schools were purposely denied knowledge of.
The British government which has up until now regulated what is taught in Scottish schools, didn't want us to know about uprisings in case we got ideas. Authoritarian rulers are always against the natives thinking for themselves.


Outlander's era of the Jacobite Uprisings in Scotland is getting an airing at last! The Scottish public may have heard of Bonnie Prince Charlie, but they probably will know little if anything about the Battle of Culloden when the English Red Coats slaughtered the clans and in the aftermath all but eliminated the clan system, the wearing of the kilt, the singing of Scottish songs, the speaking of Gaelic. In short, they sought to eradicate Scottish identity.

And if you think I'm blowing this all out of proportion, consider that in 2014 the Good Ship Britannia with David Cameron at its helm would allow Outlander to be shown in Scotland only after the Scottish referendum for in, while in England it was aired before.
So, again we are forced back to art for the truth. History won't tell us. The ruling governments will certainly not - in fact, they will go out of their way to conceal it. Out, out, damn spot  - you can sit on the truth for a while, even a long while, but eventually that blood stain is going to come through. I am grateful to Diana Gabaldon's book series for bringing it to light. Whether she thought this was on her agenda or not, it is certainly on mine.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Turning the Tables

29th September 2017

On my first visit to this country, I naively asked a young African American at dinner if race was still a problem in the United States. I was clueless and only twenty-one, so I could not have anticipated his reaction when he got up from the table and walked away. I was, after all, in the north east of the country, in Ivy League Land. Later, when I came to live in Aspen, I hardly ever saw a black person.
But if there's one thing this era of Trump has brought to the fore is that I was right to ask the question in the first place. And the answer is a resounding Yes.
This week, Alabama elected a known racial bigot, who has been kicked off the judicial courts in Alabama twice for being too racist. Last month, Trump pardoned a convicted racist, Sheriff Arpaio, and, in Charlottesville, Virginia, the KKK and Neo Nazis came out with their stupid torches and white supremacist chants. It makes you wonder if  all that happened at the behest of Martin Luther King was that white prejudice went underground. At least, it is now showing its face in all of its ignorant glory.

Despite Aspen being almost entirely white, it does in its whiteness support a vibrant Latin American community (who else would clean the toilets?) Spend any time among these people and you realise that they have much to teach us. While we knot our handkerchiefs and wait in line to see our shrinks, they are blasting their Latin music and embracing families, their own and those of others. They  have something we long ago lost and which the French encapsulated in the term Joie De Vivre. We have forgotten how to live and our colourful neighbours are our only chance to get back.

You look at Trump's party of old bigotted white guys, and you long for a regime change, one of race. Speed the day when the supreme court is mostly ethnic, when when right-wing republicans have no one left in America to appeal to. Speed the day when black folks do an African dance on the grave of white supremacy, and men like Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell are defined in history's black and white pages for what they were: smudges among the lines. That's all.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Catalunya and Caledonia

22nd September 2017

I know I harp on a lot about the inner workings of Empire, but it is really hard to ignore it as we watch Spain seize Catalonia's finances and roll tanks in to take over operations so that the Independence Referendum it is planning to hold on October 1st will never take place. It appears to have slipped Spain's mind that the right to self-determination is written into the United Nations charter itself.

The BBC (and the British government - there may be no difference) is giving the situation next to no air-time, and when it does, it refers to the Catalans as "separatists," which is a ploy it also used during Scotland's campaign for independence. Even though Westminster is in the process of separating itself from the European Union, it still paints Scottish "separatists" as selfish trouble-makers. Like Catalonia, Scotland must stay in and be ever grateful for a union that dismisses its culture and sense of worth with the wave of one hand while grabbing its resources with the other.    

The truth is that Madrid wouldn't be interested in Catalonia and neither would Westminster be interested in Scotland were it not for the "embarrassment of riches" (McCrone Report) there for the draining. If, like the independent Isle of Man sitting off England's west coast, neither place had rich natural resources, they too would be left alone to self-govern, to be their own country and not part of another of history's self-aggrandising kingdoms.  

Friday, September 15, 2017

Dusty Death

15th September 2017

Because I could not stop for death, he kindly stopped for me... I always say that Americans "do" death much better than the Brits, but not that American.  In the enviroment where I grew up the Scots word Dreich most aptly describes the rite that is supposed to walk mourners through loss to acceptance. Dreich is an adjective I would use to describe a lot of what goes on in dusty churches throughout my native land, but it gets amplified when it comes to death: miserable dirges, rain, solemn graveside pronouncements about ashes and how death has no victory despite all evidence to the contrary. All very glum.

Maybe things have changed since my childhood in Scotland, but if they have, it's probably because America took the lead. Americans in general have taken the art of denial to new and surprising destinations, but in the case of the Grim Reaper, it serves them well. Who needs Dreich  at a time like that?

In America you are more likely to be invited to a Celebration of Life than to a funeral, and maybe that's a better way of letting the dead go. We've all seen pictures of mother chimps grooming a dead baby, carrying it around for days on end. Eventually, however, the mother chimp puts her dead baby down and moves on. For too many of us, we never put the dead down, and after a while they turn into ghouls and begin to stink.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Trickle Down Effect

8th September 2017

From my window, I can see a Rocky Mountain called Capitol Peak. The top is over fourteen thousand feet high, but that doesn't stop, instead encourages, people to climb it. This last season five climbers have already died up there. At least three of those deaths happened despite warnings that the descent they would choose was going to lead off a cliff that isn't visible from the top.
No matter where you live in the United States, it has got to feeling like we are all at the top of Capitol Peak right now, trying to figure out a safe way down.

When chaos like this ensues in a country, it quickly effects the psychological health of the people at large.  Right after 911, a bio technician mailed out envelopes containing spores of the deadly anthrax virus which killed five people. The perpetrator had nothing to do with Islamic terrorism and acted alone, but sometimes when people live on the edge of sanity, all they need is general chaos to push them over into the abyss.
You might think of this as the trickle down effect, not in economics (which isn't a real thing) but in levels of national sanity. With a mentally unstable president in power, all kinds of minimal paranoia that hitherto has remained in check, suddenly grows a gorgan's head. and precipitates destruction like the violence we have seen in the last months from the extreme right.

I don't like living on a knife edge. I suspect most other people don't either. I hope we're on the verge of cutting off the Gorgan's head and returning to sanity. I hope history will relegate this period in American history, and by extension world history, to its graveyard of temporary insanities. It is my hope that in the not too distant future, we will come down from this airless peak to the valleys of green again. That we will get back to what was happening before chaos overtook us, which was the gentle (if not linear) evolution of humankind.