Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Concerning the Depression.

The following comes from a chat about the 1930s.

Kid#1 "But if they were hungry couldn't they just order 'Fresh Direct'?"
Mondale "There was no 'Fresh Direct' in 1932 and they had no money".
Kid#2 "Doesn't matter, you can get $50 of free food with your first order".
kid#3 "'Fresh Direct' is taking over the world".

I don't often blog about the kids but today has just proved to be too much.

third grade ramblings.

School secretary misheard through the crackly classroom speaker.
"on May 2nd are you out the whole day?"

kids: "Alcohol day?"
"Is May 2nd alcohol day?"
"Are you drinking alcohol all day on May 2nd?"
"get the beers in"

Kid #1 "was Ford a general or a president?"
Kid #2 "he was Gerald Ford, he was both"

Monday, April 25, 2005

So many polls, so little time.

It seems that Blair is floating just ahead of Michael Howard's tories. It seems that all the polls make the assumption that a Labour victory is certain, a sure bet. I'm happy with that, as long as it comes true.
I sense that each generation get's it's one amazing election. For left wing grandparents, parents and my generation it would have been 1945, 1964 and 1997 respectively. The evil sneering tory bastards had 1983 and 1992. If you are a Liberal male aged 120 or more you will still hold fond memories of Sir Henry Campbell Bannerman taking the keys of Number 10.
It seems that all the other elections are generally pretty dull affairs. I remember 1987 when I was just entering my earliest throes of ridiculously embarrased teenage socialism, I was sure that if only everyone in South Norfolk realised what Thatcher had done to the miners and how the evil tories supported aparthied and how mad Ronald Reagan was, then surely, surely? But no, South Norfolk was reliably conservative and bucked no trends that year.
I have to keep an eye on this one though, it's the quiet ones you have to watch.
Michael Howard talking up immigration, Blair boosting his economic record, Charles Kennedy blasting the decision to go to war. It should all be good stuff but with two cars in every home, nice vacations and home ownership at an all time high Brits seem content. Not one phonecall home to family or email from friends has mentioned the election, even the most politically astute seem rather blase' about the idea of a third term.
Wait, there is good news, the frighteningly right wing UKIP (UK independence party, running on a platform of leaving the European Union, akin to George Wallace and his State's rights) seems likely to either disapear without trace or, more probable, cripple the tories by cutting into a significant rightsided chunk of their vote.
Whatever happens I shall take advantage of the 5 hour time difference to spend the evening of May 5th by this trusty computer searching for results, checking my facts and swing-o-meters and glugging on some red wine, there's some sybolism there somewhere.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Work avoidance

WA is a skill. I am blessed with the supreme ability to shuffle things, move stuff about, clean, stroll, lecture, essentially do anything and pretty much everything to put off the task in hand.
Today has been a great example of this. Today I have done the following in order to avoid writing report cards.

Persuaded Ms Random Doubt to drive the car into Manhattan to return it to the garage where it lives. (It had to be done at some point)
Visited some shoe stores looking for some lightweight yet formal summer footwear for school. (Bingo! Got new shoes)
Gone to the Post office. (Don't underestimate this, Post Offices can be deeply traumatic places).
Eaten a large lunch (well, we'll be drinking lots of wine tonight).
Read the first installment of the Sunday Times. (It'll clear some time tomorrow so I can work).
Talked politics with Kitten. (She needs to know what the future might bring).
Blogged quite a bit. (Voila).
Caught up with family in Blighty. (My mother has just had an awful yet hilarious vacation in France).
Caught up with the continuing adventures of Norwich City. (Come on you yellows!!).
Went to the wine store. (Picking up Kosher wine for tonight).
Listened to AC/DC and Steve Earle. ('Back in Black' and 'Jerusalem').

That's about it, there's always tomorrow for working. I might take a nap.

The most wonderful time of the year.

There's a lot to be said for springtime. Some folk enjoy the budding nature of trees and stuff. Some people like opening day and freezing their nuts off at ballparks all across the northeast. I love the climax to the English football season. As April turns into May I start having crazed phone conversations with family and friends about obscure mathematical probabilities and the consequences of events that influence other events that would set off a chain of scenarios that would either determine failure or success.
This is part of a national obsession. In the spring of 1998 I was on a train with friends returning from a Norwich game at Reading. We were heading back into London for our post match revelry. I don't even remember the score, it was a crappy game between two teams that had nothing to play for. We got into conversation with a respectable gentleman. He asked us about some of our players and so on. We asked if he was a Reading fan "oh no, watch that lot? you must be mad! I just got tickets for the game a few weeks ago when your lot were in trouble. I thought it might be a fun game to watch, you know, someone might get hurt". By hurt he was meaning that either Norwich or Reading might be so desperate for survival that one of the teams might suffer a near fatal defeat (as opposed to actual physical harm). I love that. I love looking out for the winners across the leagues but also looking for the casualties. This year it looks highly likely that my beloved City will be one of those casualties. As I write we are mounting a crazy rearguard action which involves actually winning games. This has not been part of our plan this season but hey? Could work!
It all comes to pass around the third weekend in May. Cup Final day. Still my holiest day of the year. I shall find a bar in NYC and get drunk at 10am on a Saturday whilst watching the game.
The most wonderful time of the year, yes indeed.

Pumpkin. 2002-2005

Any loss is a burden.
Any loss is, well, a loss.
Our dear friends recently lost Pumpkin.
Pumpkin used to visit Bowles Towers when his/her/it's owners were on vacation.
Kitten was completely unaware of his/her/it's presence.
Even when I would clean out the fishbowl.
We shall hold shiva on Wednesday night.
I understand sushi is on the menu.
Although the Mondales don't like sushi.
Our thoughts are with those who suffer loss.

Mondale and Ms Mondale and Kitten Mondale

The Agadir Crisis vs Buffy the vampire slayer

I am so annoyed about losing the marathon essay on the British Election.
Ms Mondale is on the sofa.
We have 'Buffy the vampire slayer' on TV.
Kitten is seeking warmth (like many New Yorkers we have been lulled into pre summer madness by the gorgeousness of the midweek weather, now it's cold again, Kitten is upset).
We are looking forward to our first weekend in months where we have no comittments (except Seder but an evening gig doesn't count).
I wanna see Weasel and hang out with him and Ms Weasel and their dogs. Ms Mondale wants to meet Weasel and Ms Weasel to make sure they really exist.
Last week I met Geraldine Ferraro. She was cool.
I'm amused by people who are concerned about BenedictXVI's conservatism. He's the Pope. He's meant to be conservative.

The electoral test.

The 2005 British General elction is devastatingly dull. I mean, some of the issues do concern me and I have taken some time to think them over. I am a concerned pro European and I am keen to see how the future will pan out vis a vis Pound, Euro and Dollar. I am passionate about The National Health Service and hold my breath (but not long enough to require medical attention) in the hope that it is sustained and improved. I am (despite teaching in a private school) a firm advocate of free and comprehensive education for all. All these and more are issues that are being tackled as the parties vie for the keys to No 10. What I am not interested in are the Conservative attempts to whip up race as an electoral tool. I am not concerned with fox hunting or the decline of rural England (Conservative policies between 1979 and 1997 concerning road building, closure of rural transport infrastructures and the development of a charming strip mall culture have all helped us on our way in that respect. ).
I have just lost a huge sprawling essay I wrote about being kidnapped by Lembit Opik and Charles Kennedy. Like a dream, it was wild and true and full of sunlight and insanity. I pressed something and it's gone. Bollocks!

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Charles and Camilla

Firstly, who really gives a shit?
Secondly, I enjoy checking in on the zeitgeist. Here goes.
OK, It was kinda nice to get the early phone call from mum who yelled at us to "get up and do your duty, the sodding future sodding king is getting bloody well married"
I fumbled for a TV station for about 10 seconds and went back to bed. Then, a little while later I got online and attempted to watch ridiculously fuzzy images from the BBC. Then tuned into to the BBC radio and listened while I loaded the dishwasher. That's the way a Royal wedding should be handled, loading the dishy on a Saturday morning. My neice called. She's 6 and was busy watching 'The Incredibles' for the guzillioneth time. She couldn't care less about a fairy tale wedding of two old folk. She wanted to talk to us about chickens and piano lessons.
What always gets me about Royal events are the vast numbers of utter lunatics who come out of the woodwork. Check out any of the main UK news websites, Guardianunlimited, BBCi etc. They all have photo galleries. Each gallery has obligatory shots of smiling rich kids but also the loonies. The old lady with the 'Diana forever' protest banner, the grinning idiot who had slept on the streets of Windsor to get a good view.
It's all just zeitgiest.
Weasel summed it up, the expat thing is a bit tricky, what makes one proud of one's 'home' ? For me it's a confusing bunch of stuff ranging from it's obsession with sport to it's cultural output, landscape, weather, Health service, attitude, I could go on. What it certainly is not, is the Royal Family and the nutters and mentalists who sleep on the streets of Windsor to watch over two old dears getting hitched.

The alternative list of the Presidency

Look, it's late on a Friday night, I've had a couple of beers and Weasel set me a challenge. This is a little more civilised than some of the drunken Friday night challenges that he's set me in the past but here goes.
An alternative list of the Presidency. Using the losing candidates (Those in bold actually served as President at some point)
1789 John Adams (no party designations untill 1796)
1792 John Adams
1796 Thomas Jefferson:Democratic-Republican
1800 Aaron Burr:Democratic-Republican
1804 Charles Pinckney:Federalist
1808 Charles Pinckney:Federalist
1812 DeWitt Clinton:Federalist
1816 Rufus King:Federalist
1820 John Quincy Adams:Independent Republican
1824 Andrew Jackson:Democratic-Republican
1828 John Quincy Adams:National Republican
1832 Henry Clay:National Republican
1836 William Henry Harrison:Whig
1840 Martin Van Buren:Democratic
1844 Henry Clay:Whig
1848 Lewis Cass:Democratic
1852 Winfield Scott:Whig
1856 John C. Fremont:Republican* (From this point on we assume the traditional Republican/Democrat face off. We'll start using Rep & Dem from this point)
1860 Stephen A. Douglas:Dem
1864 George B. McClennan:Dem
1868 Horatio Seymour:Dem
1872 Horace Greeley:Dem
1876 Samuel J. Tilden:Dem
1880 Winfield S. Hancock:Dem
1884 James G. Blaine:Rep
1888 Grover Cleveland:Dem
1892 Benjamin Harrison:Rep
1896 William J. Bryan:Dem
1900 William J. Bryan:Dem/Populist
1904 Alton B. Parker:Dem
1908 William J. Bryan:Dem
1912 Theodore Roosevelt:Progressive
1916 Charles E. Hughes:Rep
1920 James M.Cox:Dem
1924 John W. Davis:Dem
1928 Alfred E. Smith:Dem
1932 Herbert Hoover:Rep
1936 Alfred M. Landon:Rep
1940 Wendell L. Wilkie:Rep
1944 Thomas Dewey:Rep
1948 Thomas Dewey:Rep
1952 Adlai Stevenson:Dem
1956 Adlai Stevenson:Dem
1960 Richard Nixon:Rep
1964 Barry Goldwater:Rep
1968 Hubert Humphrey:Dem
1972 George McGovern:Dem
1976 Gerald Ford:Rep
1980 Jimmy Carter:Dem
1984 Walter Mondale:Dem
1988 Michael Dukakis:Dem
1992 George Bush:Rep
1996 Bob Dole:Rep
2000 Al Gore:Dem
2004 John Kerry:Dem

OK, no more lists. This is what happens when a political junkie gets a bit drunk at the controls of a blog. What is interesting is how many incumbents were replaced by their own party. Here endeth the lesson.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

President for life.

I'm currently reading "Gotham" by Mike Wallace and Edwin G. Burrows. It's a huge book yet surprisingly readable. Anyway, I was getting through some of the nuts and bolts of post revolutionary America and was surprised to discover the large ammount of disagreement that took place over the shape of this brave, new republic. One of the more intruiging aspects that cropped up was the swiftly dropped idea of electing a President for life. This got me thinking, What if this had happened? Based on the (rather vague) assumption that when one President dies the man who actually held the office at that time would be elected I have worked out the following list. It makes for some thought provoking stuff. I also realise tht this is up there to be torn down and dissected and argued with. No worries, it's just a harmless bit of "what if?" history geekdom.

George Washington 1789- 1799
then, assuming that John Adams would have been elected upon the death of Washington (and so on until the present day) we have the following
John Adams 1799- 1826
John Quincy Adams 1826- 1848
James Polk 1848-1849
Zachary Taylor 1849-1850
Millard Fillmore 1850-1874
Ulysees Grant 1874-1885
Chester Arthur 1885-1886
Grover Cleveland 1886-1908
Theodore Roosevelt 1908-1919
Woodrow Wilson 1919-1924
Calvin Coolidge 1924-1933
Franklin Roosevelt 1933-1945
Harry Truman 1945-1972
Richard Nixon 1972-1994
Bill Clinton 1994 to the present.

See? No Jefferson? No James Madison??? No Jackson? No Lincoln?(would that mean no log cabin republicans?) No Rutherford B. Hayes? No Kennedy? No LBJ? (weep) No chipper nuclear physicist peanut farmers? No Bushes?

Just some idle thoughts from an idle fellow. (The British election is, at this point turning out to be as dull as the last one)

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Decision 2005

Right, they're off.
Blair visits Queen, Queen says yes and Parliament is disolved. general election on May 5th.
I'm going to become obsessed with this, more so than the US election last November. It's quicker and edgier and I know more about the personalities and politics. I want a Labour victory (or even better a Liberal one but that's not going to happen) I'm pretty certain that the Tories won't make it but I'm still cautious. Historians of British politics, look at June 1970. let's not get complacent.
More, much more, to follow.