Trump Imagery

What is the appeal of The Donald as president? Trump imagery over Trump policy, I suspect. But why? Reading The Englishman’s Boy, I got a clue from a 1923 fictional Hollywood studio boss:

Last year Mussolini marched his Blackshirts on Rome and the government, the army folded. The government possessed all the material force necessary to prevail, and yet they gave way to a few thousand men with pistols in their pockets. Why? Because Mussolini orchestrated a stream of images more potent than artillery manned by men without spiritual conviction. Thousands of men in black shirts marching the dusty roads, clinging to trains, piling into automobiles. They passed through the countryside like film through a projector, enthralling onlookers. And when Rome fell, Mussolini paraded his Blackshirts through the city, before the cameras, so they could be paraded over and over again, as many times as necessary, trooped through every movie house from Tuscany to Sicily, burning the black shirt and the silver death’s head into every Italian’s brain. [p. 109]trump imagery tv

Guy Vanderhaeghe published The Englishman’s Boy in 1996, long before the phenomenon of Trump the Candidate. Trump moved on a fractured Republican Party, and America, the same way Mussolini moved on a post-WWI fractured Italy and Europe. Like Mussolini, Trump knows the power of image. Donald Trump is showbiz and glamour, gossip and myth. His actual beliefs? Do we know? Do we care? Donald Trump is a green screen of outrageousness. You can project whatever meaning you want on to his words. Be offended or be empowered.

Trump as Green Screen

To his supporters, he is Everyman: just like us, with money. If you squint right, you can see the Horatio Alger story in him. A “small loan” from his father set him up to become fabulously wealthy, so he says. He knows how to play the system. We go to his casinos, hoping that Lady Luck gives us a helping hand. We dream that  we could parlay that stake into our fortune. Those with a more scholarly approach subscribed to Trump University, hoping to learn the art of the deal.

But if we can’t, maybe he’ll do it for us. He will stand up to big corporations and job-stealing nations and immigrants. He’ll out-bully the bully boys of international politics (who are ‘taking advantage of us’). He can arm-wrestle Vladimir Putin figuratively and probably literally.

To his opponents, however, he is racist, sexist – every ‘ist’ that is vile and not part of the mantra of “diversity and inclusivity.” Including fascist. (Here is an excellent article on Trump and fascism.)

Stylistically, he is everything that gilt and mirrors are. Braggadocious, as he might say, décor. The décor of his houses. But his political and social philosophies are less consistent. So look at his statements and performance and choose your interpretation. For example: he’s anti-women because he insults women; he’s pro-women because of his hiring practices.

Whatever the topic, his very public life provides the canvas upon which you can draw the picture you want to see. He knows the art of the image better, perhaps, than he knows the art of the deal. This election campaign is proving to be more about imagery than about deals and policies.

Corrie Street Sept. 25/16

The Vicarage

Billy and Todd sitting in the vicarage garden. What a beautiful place! Todd brings up the obvious, something I was hoping he wouldn’t do. billy and todd in vicarage gardenSomething I hoped he’d let Billy bring up, if he is thinking of it and he likely is. Should Billy leave the priesthood?

Looking at the vicarage, inside and out, I can’t help feeling that Sean would make a better vicar’s spouse than Todd would. Oh, he’d say and do things he shouldn’t but he’d at least make an effort to fit in with the congregation, no matter how unsuccessful that effort may prove to be. Todd? I don’t think so.

billy-looks-at-todd-in-frustrationFriday, I wondered if the complaint about Todd and Billy sharing the vicarage was because they are gay or because they are living together ‘without benefit of clergy’. Would it be ok if they were married? Would it be equally unacceptable to the complainant if it were a man and woman living together unmarried?

So I googled the Church of England, assuming that to be the church in question although it’s never been specified. If so, a married Vicar Billy isn’t an option. Gay clergy are required to be abstinent. todd-says-only-billy-can-decideMarriage or indeed living together in a same-sex relationship isn’t an option.

That’s too bad. Just in terms of this story, I was hoping for a wedding. I don’t think Billy and Todd would last five minutes together, but I enjoy a good wedding. I’d prefer it to be Billy and Sean, but I guess that ship’s sailed.

As it is, I don’t see anywhere for Billy’s story to go but for him to billy-thinks-about-optionsseriously contemplate leaving the church. And that would be a sin, not his but that of the situation that prevents him for reconciling his calling with his emotional life.

Apple Juice

apple-tree-photo-d-stewartIt’s been a good year for our apple trees. They grow near the house, in the fields and woods. More apples than the deer can eat. Different kinds – red, yellow, crab and not. Why couldn’t I make apple juice, I wondered. Cook and strain, just like I did for rhubarb juice. I googled and, yep, you can.

Cut up apples

apple-bins-photo-d-stewartI halved the small apples and quartered large ones. Smaller pieces cook faster and it also lets you better see parts that are bad or wormy. I didn’t peel them or cut the cores out.

Put cut apples in a large pot and add water. After some trial and error, I found about a third as much water as apples gave the right strength of juice. So for 16 cups of cut-up apples, add 5-6 cups water.

apples-cooking-photo-d-stewartCook until apples are soft, about 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the quantity and the apples.

Line a sieve or colander (plastic, enamel or stainless steel) with 3-4 layers of cheesecloth, dampen it. Then sit it in a bowl or pot that fits so that there is clearance for the liquid to drain. Have two more containers nearby – you’ll likely need them in the next step.

Strain apple juice

Carefully pour the liquid and apples into the strainer. Your bowl will soon fill because the juice will drain through quickly. Move the colander over to your spare bowl with one hand and, with the other hand, pour the juice into another bowl or jug.

straining-apples-photo-d-stewartKeep doing that until all the apples and liquid are in the colander. Leave that to drain. Take another colander or sieve, put cheesecloth in it and strain the juice several more times from one bowl to the other. You’ll see a bit of apple pulp in the bottom. Rinse the cheesecloth, and repeat.

If your apples are sweet enough to eat, I doubt you’ll need to add sugar. Taste the juice while it’s still hot to see. Be careful, add only a bit at a time.

You can freeze it in plastic bottles or can it in sealing jars. You can likely make it as a concentrate by using less water.

Is it worth it?

apple juice photo d stewartIf you have the apples anyway, it’s worth doing. But if I had to buy them, I don’t think I would. The juice is a bit cloudy. Maybe a finer mesh sieve or a jelly bag. Maybe a juicer. But that’s just aesthetics. The juice tastes good.

See also my Apple Jelly. Or see how to make Rhubarb Juice and Rhubarb Jelly. It’s the same process, just with or without gelling or added pectin.

Corrie Street Sept. 18/16

Writing on the Wall

Writing on the wall literally and figuratively for Steve. Graffiti was the apt background for a shifting of his world, which would now be controlled by Nick.steve-and-nick-graffitiLet’s go for a drive, Nick said to Steve. Then he parked beneath an overpass. Time for a talk about what’s what and what will be, he told Steve.

The talk spanned Wednesday and Thursday’s episodes. Likewise, the graffiti spanned the bridge and covered every girder. It was so much there that it almost overshadowed what was happening between Nick and Steve.steve-and-nick-girdersI don’t know if this was a location or if set designers created it. It was like an artist’s rendition of an architectural plan – the idealized more than the real. If that overpass doesn’t exist somewhere in Greater Manchester, it should.

Graffiti matches discussion

It set the mood perfectly for an almost surreal scene between the two men. Their discussion, complex and lengthy, was about the future life of an unborn child and all the people who would be part of that child’s life – or wouldn’t be. They battled and negotiated as if in summit talks over policy and procedure.nick-and-steveAnd they were, I guess. It was a summit on claiming and rearing a child: how, where and with whom. Steve was surprised. So was I. I hadn’t really thought about where Nick fit in this little drama of family secrets. I don’t think Steve had either. He, like me, has been preoccupied with Liz and how long she would be able to keep quiet about who was Leanne’s real baby daddy.

I, unlike Steve, was also worried about him. How long could Steve maintain a neighbourly interest only in Leanne’s pregnancy and baby. And, of course, even if they all pulled it off, when would some medical emergency happen that required the child’s biological parentage to be investigated?nick-with-cellphone But what I hadn’t thought about was what kind of power this situation gives Nick in the short and long term. He can keep everybody’s lives just as they want them – or he can blow them apart. He made that very, very clear to Steve under that bridge, amid the graffiti.nick-walks-away-from-steveThe t-shirts for this storyline wouldn’t be about whether momma was happy. Instead, they’d read “If putative daddy ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”

Flat Bay, Newfoundland

The Mi’kmaq community of Flat Bay in Bay St. George is on YouTube. Below is a 16 minute documentary about the west coast Newfoundland village (Feb. 2017).

You can also download the accompanying report on Traditional Land Use and Occupancy. In 86 pages, the authors give a good overview of Flat Bay’s history, traditions and kinship networks.

Flat Bay is an important historical and political centre of the Newfoundland MI’kmaq. Its people have been central in the fight for official recognition as a First Nation. But if you’re driving across Newfoundland, you’re likely to miss it. It’s well off the TransCanada Highway at the end of a road that goes nowhere else. This has been good for Flat Bay’s preservation of identity. From the conclusion of the report, here’s a bit of the reason why.

flat bay tluos cover photo
Flat Bay, photo from TLUOS cover page

Traditional Land Use and Occupancy Study

[The Mi’kmaq] settled in Flat Bay, due to its abundance of eel, access to the interior by the “river highways,” and provided isolation while allowing closeness to trading partners on Sandy Point.

…Originally a patchwork community was knit together due to their natural river boundaries. Hundreds of people bound together, through various means, surviving off the bounty of land and water, slowing closing the distance between them through the relationships that established the bloodlines we document in this study. For a time, the communities, Flat Bay West, East, and St. Teresa’s, were divided by the dialogue of outsiders. Divisions [were] drawn along… place name, family name, income and occupation, education, dialect…

As the community began to shrink for these reasons and others, the residents undertook policy, whether they did it consciously is still up for debate, of their community’s regeneration… Flat Bay was not unlike a thousand other small communities… of Newfoundland; the difference was someone else was writing our story. [pp 57-58]

google map flat bay
Google map of Flat Bay (click to enlarge)

Flat Bay History and Families

Flat Bay has been writing its own story, in terms of maintaining a strong Mi’kmaq community, for a long time. They literally write their own story in this study, in its authorship and use of interviews with residents. It begins with a concise history of the Newfoundland Mi’kmaq and of the village. The authors then trace the history of industrial and subsistence economic activities, social and trade contact with nearby communities, and the effect of game laws. Education, language and the role of women are discussed in terms of tradition and change. The final section is an easy to follow history of the major Mi’kmaq families in the town: Benoit, King, Webb and Young.

It is an excellent study. Thanks to authors Calvin White, Hailey Burroughs, Mary Elsa (Dale) Young and Ivan White.

Corrie Street Sept. 11/16

Soap Cliché

liz-fumes-michelle-looks-at-picsIf something makes you think soap cliché, that’s good reason to not do it. Wife and girlfriend pregnant at the same time screams soap cliché. It is one thing having Leanne get pregnant by Steve. And another thing for Michelle to want a last chance saloon baby. But both happening at the same time? Soap cliché.soap cliché with mcdonald and platt womenFrom the glass half full perspective, the Corrie writers are having fun with it. Secretive meaningful looks shoot across rooms. Conversations lapse awkwardly when the wrong person or topic is introduced. Steve and Liz doing Laurel and Hardy as they try to hide their whispered arguments and strategy sessions.

Baby mommas and momma

They huddle together, gobsmacked, as Leanne and Nick announce that they are having a baby. Steve trapped in a room with his momma and baby mommas all together. A horrified Liz stands apart from the gail-smiles-at-nick-and-leannebonding taking place on Thursday  between Gail, Leanne, Michelle and, theoretically, her. You can almost see the steam coming from her ears while Gail goes on and on about Platt babies and the special joy of her firstborn’s firstborn.

But it’s not all slapstick and grimaces. Liz cannot believe that Steve can live across the street from his own child and watch it be raised as a Platt. And, perhaps more accurately, that she cannot. He, however, furious liz chagrined stevethinks the arrangement works well for all. He will have a baby with his wife. Leanne will have the baby she has long wanted. Nick will be a daddy. There will be a grandchild for Liz and a grandchild for Gail. Glass half full.

Liz warns Steve that the truth will out. You cannot keep a secret like this forever. And secrets like this should not be kept. It’s not fair to anyone. So, glass half empty.

When the truth is revealed, it will be a big story. A story that could liz-with-happy-face-steve-withoutstand on its own, in terms of what happens with Michelle and Steve, with Nick and Leanne and with Steve and Leanne. It doesn’t need another half, a second baby. Adding a pregnancy for Michelle as well just makes it a soap cliché.

Missouri Puppy Mills & Prop B

Happy puppies, from ASPCA websiteOn November 2, 2010, Americans voted in mid-term elections.  One of the things voted on in Missouri was Proposition B, proposed legislation that would regulate dog-breeding kennels. It was passed by a small margin of mainly urban votes [update below].  The ASPCA, Humane Society and state- and community-level animal rescue groups supported it.

The American Kennel Club, at the national and state level, opposed it, as did groups representing puppy mill operators in the state.  It was also opposed by a Tea Party-affiliated group called Alliance for Truth, who argued that it was an invasion of individual rights by “big government”.  They went further, saying it would take away Americans’ right to own pets and farm animals.

Minimum Standards for Dog Care

Puppy mill 01-USA-PETA-wikipedia
Wire cage floor – less cleaning needed, paw damage for dogs

Minimum standards for food, water, shelter and exercise, rest between breeding cycles and a limit of 50 breeding dogs in a kennel, enforceable by state Department of Agriculture, is all that is included in Prop B.  The legislation does not apply to breeders with less than 10 dogs.

It can not, unfortunately, completely close down large-scale breeding operations of dogs for sale.  However, it is aimed at puppy mills, commercial operations where breeding is done for profit alone.  But it would apply to all dog-breeders, including show dog kennels.

More red tape for all kennels

I read the AKC website to see why they were opposed to Prop B.  I understand their fear that legitimate breeders will be penalized by legislation aimed at puppy mills.  That might happen; kennels might be inspected more often and some might have their size of operation reduced.  It would be good for the dogs, and other breeders, though if “reputable” breeders who do not maintain basic levels of care were made to provide adequate conditions for their animals.  It would be unfortunate for the conscientious breeders who work out of love for their dogs and the breed and take good care of both.

There is validity in the AKC’s fear that increased government standards and inspection may cause greater expense and paperwork for breeders who are already working on a slim profit margin.  Every small business owner knows that a government inspector coming in the door is never good news for your operating costs.

However, every small business owner knows that someone setting up shop doing what you do and undercutting your prices is also not good for your business.  Maybe they figure they’ll take a loss in the short term in order to drive you out of business, maybe they’re using cheaper labour, taking short-cuts, making a shoddier product but selling it to people who care primarily about the cheaper price.  Either way, it’s bad news for you.  It seems to me that breeding dogs for sale isn’t that much different.

Pups for quality or pups for cash

2004 Westminster dog show, junior category winners
2004 Westminster Junior Showmanship winners

Reputable breeders show their dogs in competition in order to raise the prestige of their dogs and their kennel.  That takes time and money.  They breed discriminately, checking for genetic problems and researching blood lines in order to raise the quality of their dogs and the breed as a whole.  Time and money.

Good breeders do not breed females in their first heat or every heat thereafter.  That means “downtime” where the dogs cost the same in food and care, but aren’t generating money in pups.  Antenatal and postnatal care – special foods, vet costs, shots.  Lots of money.  Finding the right home for the pups, checking prospective buyers.  Time.  Taking back the pup or grown dog if things don’t work out.  Time and money.  (And reputable breeders make it a condition of purchase that the dog will be returned if the new owner cannot keep it.)  Also making sure registration with the CKC or AKC is done properly and that “pet stock” pups are not used for breeding.  Time, money.

Price undercutting

So, say the breeder is you.  You sell your pups for $1000 and that’s not making a huge profit.  Then, down the road from you, a new kennel opens. They advertise the same kind of pups as yours and charge $800 each.  People say, “Why should I pay you $200 more?”  Meanwhile, you’ve seen the cages stacked on top of each other with dogs unable to turn around in them.  You’ve seen there is no exercise yard.  You see an endless supply of puppies going out the door.  Immediate sales, no contracts signed, no assessment of buyers, no return of dogs.  You’ve got yourself a puppy mill beside you.  How are you going to compete?

This is why, in the end, I couldn’t understand the opposition of reputable breeders to Prop B.  At the very least, it might remove ‘fly-by-night’ competitors, whether they be puppy mills or accredited breeders who cut too many corners.

Missouri “industry”

Missouri puppy mill rescue ASPCA
“The dogs were voluntarily relinquished by an owner who could no longer afford to feed them.” ASPCA

Puppy mills are a major industry in Missouri.  40% of all pet store dogs sold in the US come from Missouri.  Prop B opponents talked about the economy relying on puppy mills and therefore anything that hurt them would hurt the state.  That may be the case.

In the pre-Civil War American South, it was argued that slavery was needed in order to keep the cotton-based economy alive.  It was true then, and may be true in Missouri today with puppy mills.  But that’s not a reason to keep an inhumane and evil socio-economic system alive.  The South survived, Missouri will too.

2016: How’s the “Missouri Solution” doing?

I wrote this post on Nov. 16, 2010 on my St. Thomas Dog Blog. In 2011 the governor repealed Prop B and instead brought in a “Missouri Solution”. It removed most of the teeth of the original legislation. The time limit for puppy mill operators to comply with the changes was extended from one year to five. That therefore took it to 2016. I could find very little about whether there has been any improvement in conditions in Missouri puppy mills now. For more, see Wikipedia’s Puppy Mill (Legislative Response: US) and for details on specific puppy mills, state by state, see Humane Society US “Horrible Hundred” of 2016. There are eleven pages of entries for Missouri.

It’s another election year; the five years for implementation of the Missouri solution have passed. So how’s it worked out for the dogs?

Corrie Street Sept. 4/16

Swing Set

slide at o'connell parkLooking at a photo on my wall of the slide at O’Connell Park in Sussex, near the swings. Swings! Bethany broke the swing set! Bethany thinks she’s fat. It doesn’t matter that it was missing a bolt, she thinks her weight broke Lilly’s swing set.

That happened half a day after I’d watched Thursday’s episodes. I’d seen her open the package she had received. I’d realized the bottle of pills she quickly hid were diet pills. I recognized that, ok, Bethany’s storyline about bullying and body image is going to start up again. bethany on swing setBut I hadn’t connected it with the breaking swing.

I was worried about the bolt that was left over. It’s not just an extra, I thought. I was surprised, but glad, that Lilly refused to test drive her new swing set. If it was going to break on someone, it was good that it was Bethany. She’s old enough to take the fall without real damage, and also young enough.

swing-collapsesBut, for her self image, she was absolutely the wrong person. The laughter of the others echoed a bit maniacally, like it would in her mortified head. And Max teasing, “Bethany’s fat.” Exactly what Bethany thinks.

David’s laughter was a release for him, one he clearly needs. I don’t david-grips-boltknow how tightly wound he is. Way too tight if he grips a bolt so hard it cuts his hand as deeply as that one did. Maybe, like me, he was glad it wasn’t his little girl on the swing.

Despite the laughter, it might have been just an embarrassing moment for Bethany. It was, after all, in her own back yard with only her family and Craig around. And he, as he told her later, knows what it’s like to be picked on.

Sharing a “funny” picture

But he took a photo of her as she hit the ground and shared it on craig-takes-photosocial media. A thoughtless act, not intended with any malice, but one that cannot be taken back. Bethany was right to be upset about it. It would give loads of ammunition to those horrible girls at school. And taking it down after the fact does no good. It’s out there and probably had already been reshared. Removing it gives it greater significance than it had.

bethany-on-groundSo good writing and good construction, Corrie people. The two events – the swing set breaking and the diet pills – come from different angles back to Bethany’s storyline of teenage angst, self image and bullying.