I started when I said I would (amazingly enough!). Current status:
The green bin is now as full/heavy as I can safely move (must remember to put it out!)
The choisya is no more (the mogs approve of the nicely loose ground, giving it A+ for rolling in and B+ for loo potential!)
I have started on the lilac (see fullness of green bin).
Thereby hangs (sprouts? grows?) a problem. The current lilac is a pale-to-mid-purple colour. I really like the dark purple ones and the original plan was to replace it with one of those, moved slightly to the left and slightly forward in the border. But. There is a sucker in just the right place. A very hopeful sucker.
On returning to driving in the UK I have noticed an unofficial pattern of behavior that is new to me. A persistent issue for drivers of large trucks is that overtaking car drivers pull back in too close to them so they do not have much clear road to stop in if necessary. So, when I have passed some distance ahead, the truck flashes its lights, then I move back into their lane, then with both my turn signals I give a quick thank-you flash, learned from others. It is a simple but pleasing exchange.
Did you spend this fine morning out campaigning, or were you sitting on your sofa watching Victoria Derbyshire? I hope it was the former, but if so you will have missed a choice gem from Dominic Raab. You may remember that he was once a Conservative justice minister.
The discussion turned to food banks and the fact that they were being used by nurses in some parts of the country. Dominic Raab made this comment:
What they tend to find is the typical user of food banks is not someone that is languishing in poverty, it is someone who has a cash flow problem episodically.
As you might imagine, Liberal Democrats were not slow in coming forward to condemn his views. Tim Farron said:
Dominic Raab is woefully out of touch and has no idea how much real people are struggling. We are seeing nurses, police officers and the just about managing having to go to food banks as their paychecks won’t stretch any further. People are hurting and the Tories, with comments like this, show they just don’t care.
Today, the mask slipped and we saw the real Tory Party.
The real reasons people have to go to food banks are low incomes, benefit delays, debt and homelessness.
These are stupid and deeply offensive comments by Dominic Raab and he should apologise. This is the Alan B’Stard view of politics that shames him and his party.
I submitted it! Comp #1 is officially out of my hands as of ~2 hours ago, THANK GOODNESS. I returned all my library books afterward in a haze on the tail end of my coffee energy, hahaha.
S anticipated my need for a massage and got me a gift certificate, which I'm gratefully taking advantage of tomorrow. Taking the rest of today to wind down and relearn how to human again, so: ask me anything, fandom version! Any fandom, any character/s, any situation. I want to celebrate by thinking about ALL the trivial, fluffy things. :D
We're back to the sort of rainy weather that May usually brings to this part of the world. And of course I'd failed to do the gardening chores earlier this weekend so I had to put on my anorak and venture out into the rain to hack back the vine again.
I could tell that the weather wasn't going to be getting any drier for some hours because Kheldar was firmly asleep on the end of the bed. I just wasn't expecting the rain to get torrential halfway through hacking off another branch of the birch before next door complain about it. I am a very soggy lurkingcat now. Kheldar woke up just long enough to give me his best "Stupid, stupid human" look and then went back to sleep. It's one of those days...
To say that David Biello’s new book, The Unnatural World, is not uplifting would be an understatement. Its upshot is that we have seriously f—ed up this planet, along with all of the organisms and ecosystems residing on it, and the situation is likely to get much, much worse. But that's hardly news at this point.
Biello knows that something must be done to keep ourselves from putting yet more CO2 into the atmosphere and to counter or adapt to the effects of all the CO2 we’ve spewed thus far. His book is an attempt to explore our options for doing so. But the resulting book is rambling, disorganized, and disjointed, filled with belabored, needlessly complicated sentences like “China is living in the future past, a Dickensian steam punk sci-fi drama in Mandarin, complete with high heels and disfigured orphans.” (?)
Each paragraph feels like it barely holds together, let alone each chapter or the book as a whole. Still, The Unnatural World is sobering and important.
First, the Democratic party has won the plurality or majority of the Presidential vote 6 out of 7 times since 1992. Yet, they won the Electoral College only 4 out of 7 seven times.
Second, the Gallup polls shows that the Democratic party has a modest advantage in identification, with Democratic identifiers and leaners getting about 46% of the population vs. 40% for the Republicans. Yet, the Democrats only control 32% of the governorships (16 out of 50) and they control 29% of the state legislative chambers (29 out of 99). In the national Congress, Democrats do OK. Senate 48% (48 of 52) and House 44% (194 of 435). If we assume that non-party identifiers evenly split, the Democrats are somewhat under-performing, but just a little.
In terms of party control, it is only in Congress where Democrats perform as expected (or maybe slightly under-perform) but in the Presidency and the states, they really do lose more than they should.
And, please, no, it is not gerrymandering – the Presidency and the governorships are not gerrymandered. Gerrymandering has a modest effect at best. There really is a consistent under-performance.
I’ve been reading a few books that shed light on this really big structural feature of American politics. Each book offers a discussion of an issue in party politics and when you piece them together, you see how the Democratic and Republican parties differ:
In Local Party Organizations, Douglas D. Roscoe and Shannon Jenkins report on a survey of 1,220 party officials at the state and local levels and they ask a number of questions about the operation of local parties.
First, how did state parties help locals? GOP advantage – website development, newspaper buys, campaign expenses, social media; Democratic advantages – computer support, record keeping, staff. Second, GOP local parties were more likely to have “clear strategic goals” and a well managed organizational culture. Third, GOP organizations are more likely to have a complete set of officers, by laws, and headquarters, whiles Democrats are more likely to have a phone listing. Also, Democrats also tend to focus on labor intensive actions, like door-to-door and voter registration. Fourth, these activities often (but not always) correlate with electoral success.
Bottom line: GOP organizations appear to be a little more focused, organized, and strategic. Democrats seem to concentrate a bit more on things people can do (door to door, for example and record keeping).
In Asymmetric Politics, Matt Grossman and David Hopkins delve deep into the culture of the GOP and Democratic parties to argue that they are very different beasts. The GOP is ideologically driven and policy oriented, while Democrats are more oriented toward group solidarity and coalition maintenance. The book is massive and presents lots of data, such as public opinion data, voting patterns, and publications by interest groups and think tanks. Even though I disagree with some points, it is well taken. Democrats have a diffuse ideology and work on the coalition, while the GOP is more “mission oriented.”
David Ricci’s Politics without Stories is a study of political rhetoric and it has a simple message. Look at the philosophers, wonks and orators of the Democratic party and you see nuance and sophistication. Look the the GOP and you see more direct narratives. To quote the great Kieran Healy, Republicans “fuck nuance.“
What do we learn from this overview?
From top to bottom, the Democratic and Republican parties show important and consistent differences. Not just ideological differences, but qualitative differences in how their parties are organized and how they behave. Democrats, to simplify, are “people oriented” and focus on social practices and ideology that fits that general perspective. In contrast, Republicans are a little more task oriented, which translates into more focused and digestible rhetoric and more of an institutional interest in concrete results. There is probably more to this story, but this is a good start.
Suleiman the Magnificent earned his epithet, at least militarily. The Sultan of the Ottoman Empire for 46 years, he spent much of his time on campaign. Hungary and Persia felt the brunt of his martial genius, but perhaps his most famous victory was the Siege of Rhodes in 1522. It was a grudge match.
The island of Rhodes was a blemish on the Ottoman Empire's record. It was held by the Order of St. John (also known as the Knights Hospitaller), and it withstood the Ottoman troops' siege in 1480. The Order of St. John had first been established to care for sick pilgrims in the Holy Land, but had been beaten back and militarized as Christians lost control over the region. At Rhodes they stood firm, but both sides knew that more conflict was inevitable.
As soon as the enemy boats had disappeared over the horizon in 1480, the Order began raising and thickening the walls around their stronghold. By 1522, their fortifications stood against the barrage laid down by the naval blockade of Suleiman's military. This did not discourage the Sultan. He knew there was another way in: underground.