Friday, June 24, 2016

News and Updates

1. So apparently 52% of the voters of Britain have decided to slit their own throats in the name of nationalistic fervor.  I confess I did not particularly see that one coming, though I suppose I shouldn’t have been as surprised by it as I was, given that this has been a popular choice in this country for years now even if it does manifest rather differently here.  People are people, and Stupid is both easy and satisfying in a world where so little else is.  From what I hear a good proportion of the Leave voters either now regret what they did, had no idea what they were doing (Google reports a massive upsurge in searches for “what is the EU?” in the wake of the vote), or both, and a petition is already up and running to have a revote.  The fun part is that the vote was nonbinding, which means Parliament now has a choice.  It can follow the express wishes of the electorate and do something blisteringly dunderheaded that will cripple the British economy and destroy what small hopes the younger generation of Britons had for economic advancement even as it leads to the rapid dissolution of the United Kingdom into three, possibly four different pieces (if you think Scotland is going to stay, for example, think again), or they can do the politically and economically smart thing and ignore the referendum, which means flying directly in the face of an engaged and angry electorate, something that requires courage, foresight, and a willingness to sacrifice one’s personal interests for the good of the whole.  Maybe British politicians are better at that than Americans, but I doubt it.  Gonna be an interesting summer.

2. Meanwhile on this side of the Atlantic the presidential election has descended from comedy to farce as The Donald consistently finds new ways to announce to the world that he is not fit to have conversations with grown-ups and that anyone who supports him must be a blithering idiot.  Seriously – Hillary Clinton must be thanking whatever deity she believes in that the Republican Party has lost all shred of decency, common sense, and self-preservation to provide her with an opponent tailor-made for destruction even by someone a third of the American population hates with the pure fire of a thousand petulant and juvenile suns.  Of course, this is the United States and the problem with democracy, as my high school friend Larry often said, is that most people are idiots.  So the Sturmtrumper still has a chance.  Gonna be a really interesting summer.

3. Closer to home, our summer is going to be mostly about keeping our heads above the incoming tide of all the things we need to do.  It’s nice to go on vacation, but once you get past fourth grade they don’t forgive you all the things you miss and you still have to get them done, just in half the time.

4. My summer class seems to be going well, at least for the students who turn in work.  There are fewer and fewer of them in recent years, strangely enough.  I don’t know why.  It’s bad enough in my regular classes, but online classes work differently from face to face classes and keeping up with the workload is essential as there are few opportunities to make it up if you miss a deadline.  This is especially true in a summer class, where fifteen weeks’ worth of material gets crammed into eight weeks of overlapping deadlines.  Really, really interesting summer.

5. It is, in fact, officially summer now – a few days past the summer solstice, even – and I have had enough of this weather.  It can’t be autumn soon enough.

6. Lauren now has half of her braces, which for those of you in Britain who were drawn here by my incisive commentary on Brexit (see how he writes that with a straight face?  who says blogging is easy?) does not mean that only half of her trousers are at the right height and yes I know enough when addressing Britons to say trousers rather than pants as otherwise they will just start giggling uncontrollably and the point is lost.  No, on this side of the pond braces mean those metal attachments that orthodontists put on your teeth to straighten them out over the course of a couple of years and a few mortgage payments.  She went in on Thursday to get the top teeth done, and the bottom teeth will follow in September.  Right now she is doing well though eating a steady diet of Soft Things because that much invasion of one’s mouth does rather hurt.  A lot.  Seriously – interesting summer.

7.  Did you know that braces are now considered fashion statements?  Seriously – you can get your rubber bands and plastic inserts in all sorts of colors and even change them whenever you have an appointment.  The orthodontist specifically mentioned girls who match their prom dress to their braces or guys who insist on getting Green Bay Packers colors, although in Wisconsin it would be perfectly acceptable and indeed unremarkable for girls to have Packers colors as well.  Not sure about guys with prom dresses, though.  That's still a bit beyond most people's pale here, though maybe it's just me being old and uninformed.  Well, if you’re going to have braces, flaunt them, I say.  There is no point to going through all that pain and hassle just to hide them.

8. We saw Finding Dory this past weekend, and it was a great deal of fun.  Pixar has a long and nearly unblemished (*coughCars2cough*) streak of really lovely films, and this was no exception.  Lauren in particular was very taken with the Baby Dory.  Me?  I spent the entire film thinking that it would take about 30 minutes of rewrite to turn it into Memento (even though I couldn’t think of the film’s name until I got home).  There’s just something about a protagonist who can’t remember more than 30 seconds into their own past that lends itself to existential horror, and the contrast between that and the bright colors and cheery narrative of the film was both amusing and rather unsettling.

9. The turkeys are now big enough that we can let them wander around the yard a bit while we get them situated for the night.  They bob and weave and do their little trilling noises while they explore (“Hey – there’s GRASS over here!  Is there grass over there? REALLY?  Hey – there’s grass over here TOO!”) and eventually we herd them back into their pen for the night where they are safe from raccoons and other predators behind a protective layer of chicken wire.  The chickens are also doing well, though they rarely get to go outside.  They have big pens, though, so they’re happy.  At least we think they’re happy.  Hard to tell with chickens.

10. I counted last week – I’ve been to 32 different US states.  I am not sure how that happened. 

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