Sunday, April 4, 2021

Thoughts on a Second COVID Easter

 
"So we come to the end of April. even a chilly April, with birdsong around us and some of spring's color; and we feel the strengthening sun, we sense the opening buds, we know that no winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.  April is a promise that May is bound to keep, and we know it."

The above quotation is from an April 29, 1956 editorial in The New York Times.  The editorial "April's End,"  was reprinted in a 1964 book entitled Sundial of the Seasons: A Selection of Outdoor Editorials from The New York Times by Hal Borland.  "April's End" has been attributed to Borland.

Harold Glen "Hal" Borland (1900-1978) was an American journalist, author poet and and naturalist.  He was a New York Times writer and editorialist.  He also wrote fiction and non-fiction books about the outdoors.  Borland was a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism.  During World War II, he composed radio programs for the United States government and was a special magazine correspondent.  During his lifetime, he contributed a number of articles, short short stories and novellas to prominent magazines in the U.S. and abroad.


Hal Borland

Hal Borland's words about spring and winter are particularly relevant during these difficult days of a terrible pandemic.  Easter, Christianity's greatest feast, is upon us once more.  For the second year in a row, we are in the grip of a devastating pandemic.  COVID-19 has been the source of untold suffering, pain and despair.  It seems to be lasting so much longer than expected, and it has definitely taken its toll.  There are days when many of us, including myself, feel tired and defeated, ready to give in to gloom and despondency.  We can never let that happen, no matter how difficult the situation.  If we lose hope, we lose everything.  

"We must accept finite disappointment but never lose infinite hope."

- Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dr. King said those words in a speech he delivered on February 6, 1968, almost two months before his assassination on April 4, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee.  

Easter is a time of triumph, a manifestation of the defeat of both death and evil.  The hope of Easer is guaranteed.  It is ours forever.  In a world of uncertainty, we can count on the victory of Easter and The Resurrection.  That is why there is something to celebrate, even in these terrible times.  Christ is risen!



HAPPY EASTER!

- Joanne

Sunday, March 21, 2021

The Conservative Party of Canada won't recognize climate change crisis

Erin O'Toole

The Conservative Party of Canada (no longer "Progressive" Conservative) is moving in a dangerous direction - further to the right.  It has the same problem as the Republican Party in the United States States.  Its rank and file are on the wrong side of history with regard to climate change.  The climate crisis is very real and can't be ignored.  It is linked to the current COVID-19 pandemic.  The two are intertwined.  

This weekend, Conservative delegates at the party's political convention voted to give thumbs down to environmentally friendly policies,.  They rejected the line to the party's policy book that would have affirmed the Conservative Party' belief that "climate change is real" and that it is willing to act."  This is extremely unfortunate and disheartening because if the Conservatives form the government they will have to deal with Canada's response to the most serious problem facing humanity.  If they assume power, they can be expected to relax environmental standards.

Yes, Conservative leader Erin O'Toole stressed that the party can't afford to be seen as hostile toward the environment.  He pledged to put forth a comprehensive plan for combatting green house gases before the next election.  (For the record, O'Toole is opposed to the carbon tax on consumers and says he will remove it if he becomes prime minister.  He supports a carbon-price to penalize big polluters for emissions.  For taking that position, he was mocked by Peter MacKay, his main opponent for the Conservative leadership).

Nevertheless, there are two major problems with O'Toole's position on climate change,  Firstly, we don't know how comprehensive O'Toole's plan would actually be in reducing carbon emissions.  O'Toole is willing to talk the talk, unlike some Tories, but is he willing to walk the walk?   Is he more worried about how the party will  appear to environmentally concerned voters than he is about decreasing green house gasses?  If  Conservatives come to power in Ottawa, could he not turn around and say that the country is too deeply in debt after COVID  to afford strong environmental measures? Secondly, even if O'Toole were to come up with an effective plan, how successful would he be in implementing it?  After all, the grass roots of the party are opposed to even the appearance of concern about climate change.  If O'Toole tried to implement any significant legislation with regard to the environment, they would pressure him to water it down.

As long as the Conservative Party's base refuses to recognize the gravity of climate change, the party is stuck in a time warp.  It cannot move forward to face the most critical challenge of the 21st century.  

- Joanne 

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

COVID masks and freedom


It's very difficult for me to fathom why some people, particularly Trump followers and  Republicans in states such as Texas, feel that wearing a  mask is an infringement upon their freedom.  First of all, there  cannot be absolute freedom.  Otherwise, everyone would be able to do as he or she pleases, with impunity.  That would lead to total chaos, or as 17th century English philosopher Thomas Hobbes put it, "the war of all against all." That's why civil society has laws, to prevent such havoc.

Definitions of freedom may vary.  However, one thing is certain.  In a civil society, freedom cannot be absolute.  One cannot be free to provoke violence or hatred.  One cannot be granted the freedom to cause injury, illness or death to another person except in self-defence.  One person's freedom does not include endangering the life of another or interfering with another person's constitutional or human rights.  In the United States, citizens have the right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."  In Canada, it's "peace, order and good government."

There's another reason why Trump and his ilk don't like wearing masks.  They don't think it's macho.  They equate wearing a mask with weakness and fearfulness.  To them, it's better to risk getting the COVID virus than to appear what they consider to be weak.  They remind me of hockey players years ago who didn't want to wear a helmet.  They preferred to risk death or brain injury rather than tinkering with their macho image.  How many hockey players do you see today who don't wear helmets?

Let me be clear.  I am not advocating in favour of censorship or the severe curtailment of civil liberties.  However, civil rights do not include the right to endanger the lives and wellbeing of others by spreading a dangerous virus.  It's not a matter of freedom, it's a matter of public safety and respect for others.  Unfortunately, some far-right conservatives have made it a political issue, a way to lash out at government.  They think it's a case of big bad government telling them what they can and cannot do.  That is simply not the case, and if some right-wing Republicans in the United States truly believe that government can do no good. why don't they return their COVID relief cheques and do without that $1,400?  Why don't they refuse their child tax benefit?

Frankly, I don't enjoy wearing a mask.  They are onerous and it's not easy to breathe with one over your mouth.  However, the issue is not my personal discomfort or anyone else's.  Protecting the elderly and the vulnerable from COVID-19  is infinitely more important than individual comfort and convenience.  Trumpism is a very selfish philosophy.  Unless you have s medical condition that precludes you from wearing a mask, you should do so until health authorities advise otherwise.  You do not have the freedom to infect your fellow human beings.  


- Joanne

Monday, March 8, 2021

Reflections on International Women's Day

"To call woman the weaker sex is a libel.  It is man's injustice to women.  If by strength is meant brute strength, then, indeed, is woman less brute than man.  If by strength is meant moral power, then woman is immeasurably man's superior.  Has she not greater intuition, is she not more self-sacrificing, has she not greater powers of endurance, has she not greater courage?  Without her, man could not be.  If nonviolence is the law of out being, the future is with women Who can make a more effective appeal to the heart than woman?

- Mohandaa K. "Mahatma" Gandhi (1869-1948), From Young India, [October 4, 1930]

Today marks International Women's Day. at a time when COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on the female population.  Although International Women's Day has its roots in socialism, it has become a general celebration of women and womanhood.  

The earliest Womnen's Day observance took place in New York City on February 28, 1909.  It was called "National Women's Day" and it was organized by the Socialist Party of America at the suggestion of Theresa Malkiel 1874-1949), a Ukrainian-born American  labour activist, suffragist and educator.

Theresa Makiel

March 8th became a national holiday in Soviet Russia when women gained suffrage in 1917.  It was on March 8 (February 23 old style calendar) of that year that a women's demonstration in Petrograd (St. Petersburg) sparked the Russian Revolution and led to the overthrow of the czar.  The women went on strike that day demanding an end to World War I, food shortages and czarist rule.

Demonstration for bread and peace - Petrograd 1917

The celebration of March 8 was adopted by the feminist movement in 1967.  The United Nations began celebrating International Women's Day in 1977.


"Strident women move mountains.  Strident, like most words that mean abrasive, is rarely applied to men.  The strident woman has an opinion.  It does not matter what the strident woman's voice actually sounds like - it might be fast, deliberate, high-pitched, bellowing, or marked by vocal fry - the problem with a strident woman's voice is that she uses it.

Strident is one of many insults deployed against a woman who seems to have forgotten her role."

- Erin Matson

From Erintothemax, "In Celebration Of The Strident Woman," May 24, 2017


It is sickening to hear women's voices derided or described as "strident."  In the United States, Hillary Clinton has had to endure such criticism about her voice and personality for years, and throughout her political career.  Male leaders never have to deal with that.  The latest example of such male chauvinism comes from the leader of my own home province of Ontario, Canada..

Sexist Comment by Ontario Premier Doug Ford.  

Doug Ford

Andrea Horvath

On February 17, 2021, Premier Ford compared listening to provincial  NDP leader and Ontario Opposition Leader Andrea Horvath to "nails on a chalkboard."

There are over 190 independent sovereign nations in the world.  The wealthiest and most powerful of these countries, with the exception of Germany, are led by men.  Ask the average North American to name countries headed by women and most will only be able to name Angela Merkel, chancellor of Germany. Some will be able to identify New Zealand's prime minister, Jacinda Ardern.  Both women have received plaudits for their achievements.  Markel has provided steady leadership to Germany for over 15 years, since 2005.  She was chosen Time magazine's "Person of the Year" in 2015 for her handling of the refugee crisis in Europe that year.  Ardern has been given high marks for her reaction to the 2019 mass shootings at a two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.  Her practical approach to the COVID-19 crisis has also been successful in allowing the country to reopen safely.

The small island nation of Iceland has a history of women leaders.  Its current prime minister is Katrin Jakobsdóttir.  She assumed office in 2017.gongel 

Katrin

For the first time in its history, the United States has a female vice president in Kamala Harris.  Here in Canada, all ten of our provincial premiers are men.  There has only been one female prime minister of Canada - Kim Campbell.  She only held the office from June to November of 1993 and her government was soundly defeated in the election of October 25, 1993.  Canadians are currently represented by 100 women in the 338-seat House of Commons.  

- Joanne

Friday, March 5, 2021

Quebec City Snow Sculptures by Denis Gravel

Last March, I posted some photos of some sculptures by talented Quebec City snow sculptor Denis Gravel.  Here are some more photos of his sculptures.  They were taken a few weeks ago.  He is a very talented artist and I hope you enjoy his work.  Merci Denis









- Joanne

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Why the U.S. Republican Party is on the wrong side of history

 

What has happened to the Republican Party of the United States is sad and tragic.  The party of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and Dwight D. Eisenhower no longer exists in its current form.  In fact, the Republican Party has strayed so far to the right and away from the rule of law that it isn't even the party of Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush anymore.  Unfortunately, the party is now controlled by Donald Trump and his cult followers.  It has been hijacked.  It no longer stands for any true ideals.  It has abandoned any real principles and has become whatever Trump wants it to be.  Like a mob boss, he rules the rules the roost and demands absolute loyalty.

Lincoln

T. Roosevelt

First, a little history about the Republican Party.  According to Christopher Klein, a frequent contributor to History.com, it was formed in 1854 by former Whig Party members to prevent the expansion of slavery into western territories.  It acquired  the "nickname GOP" (Grand Old Party).around  1870, when newspapers began referring to the Republican Party as both "the grand old party" and the "gallant old party" in recognition of its contribution in preserving the Union during the Civil War.  In 1874, the Republican Party of Minnesota endorsed a platform that it said "guarantees that the grand old party that saved the country is still true to the principles that gave it birth."  

Alas, if Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt could see what has become of their party, they would weep bitterly.  It is anything but true to the principle that gave it birth.  Lincoln and Roosevelt could never have envisioned that their party would be controlled by a twice-impeached 74 year-old white supremacist, misogynist and pathological liar.  They could never have imagined that an American president would encourage an insurrection to prevent the certification of a presidential election. On January 6, 2021, Trump and his band of far right domestic terrorists, white supremacists and neo-Nazis almost succeeded in overturning the legitimate outcome of the 2020 presidential election.  

Donald Trump will never acknowledge that he lost the 2020 election to Joe Biden.  As his estranged niece, Mary Trump, has pointed out, losing means death to him.  He continues to peddle his conspiracy theories and lies, and millions of American believe him.   He acts as if he is a viable candidate for president in 2024, although it is doubtful that he will ever run again.  Still, many of  the former president's followers will be duped into donating their hard-earned money to him.

Let's be clear.  Donald Trump should not be permitted to run for office in the United States ever again.  He will spend years in court, facing multiple criminal and civil charges.  Sooner of later, he will be held accountable for his actions.  He is not above the law and he no longer has the protection of the American presidency.  He is Citizen Donald J. Trump and he must be held accountable for his actions.  Otherwise other authoritarian leaders will attempt to get away with destroying American democracy.  Trump is not invincible.  Keep in mind that mobster Al Capon was finally convicted of tax evasion and that Napoleon was defeated in the Battle of Waterloo.

Donald Trump and his sycophants, such as Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham and the woeful Josh Hawley, should take note of what has just happened to the former president of France, Nicolas Sarkozy.  Sarkozy, who served as president from May 2007 to May 2012, has just been convicted of corruption.  He was sentenced to a year in prison.

Sarkozy

The Trump Party is out of touch with modern America.  History and demographics are not on its side.  The population of the United States is becoming increasingly urban and more diversified.  The environment matters.  Coal, oil and other fossil fuels are dying industries.  They will be replaced by renewable energy, green jobs and electric cars.  The lily white world of Leave it to Beaver is long gone and the South will never rise again.

This is not to say that the concerns of rural, white voters don't matter and should not be addressed.  It simply means that the world has changed and that a conservative movement, if it is to succeed,  has to become more inclusive, more concerned about the environment and more appealing to racial minorities, immigrants and younger voters.  

As it is presently constituted, the "Republican" Party cannot win the popular vote in a presidential election.  It can only depend on an archaic electoral college system to elect a "Republican" president.   It has to attract voters, not prevent them from voting.  The Trump Party has been reduced to voter suppression and gerrymandering in order to win elections.  It is determined to  prevent Blacks and Latinos from exercising their franchise. 

The party of Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt has been lost.  It hasn't been "grand" for a while.  It is just old and out-of-step.  That is why moderate conservatives who believe in democracy and the rule of law should start a new party.  It should be a party that is more open and more internationalist.  It should be willing to work side by side with America's traditional allies and support the United Nations and its agencies such as the World Health Organization (WHO).  Remember that Wendell Wilkie, a corporate executive and Republican candidate for president in 1940, published a manifesto in 1943.called One World, which advocates an end to colonialism and supports World Federalism and equality for non-whites in the United States. 

Wilkie

The American conservative movement needs to be refreshed and rebuilt.  Like the Whig Party, the "Republican Party" of Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell should be confined to the dust bin of history.  Otherwise, Trumpism and domestic terrorism will continue to threaten democracy in the United States.

SOURCEHistory.com, "Why Is the Republican Party Known as the GOP?" by Christopher Klein


-  Joanne

Attention Canada!! Don't throw this out. It's not junk mail.


Hey Canada, if you've received this in the mail, don't throw it out.  I almost discarded it myself until I looked at it more carefully.  It's definitely not junk mail.  Although Canada Post is sending it out as a flyer, it's actually a postage paid post card.  Please take the time to send a note to someone who is alone or isolated during this pandemic.  Just write a message and place it in a mail box. It won't cost you anything and it's a win-win situation.  You will cheer someone up and you will feel better.  In these terrible times, some good old fashioned mail can work wonders.  

- Joanne

Monday, February 22, 2021

Canada's vaccine response is extremely disappointing

   

Here in Toronto, Canada's largest city, we have been in lockdown since the day after Christmas.  The Ontario government's stay-at-home order has been extended until at least until March 8th, due to fears about the spread of variants of the COVID-19 virus.  This didn't have to happen and its consequences are tragic.  Every day that the vaccines are delayed means that more people will become infected and more people will die.  It means that variants of the virus will spread more rapidly.  As I write this, two vulnerable members of my family have still not been vaccinated.  One is 92 years old and the other resides in a group home.  Millions of Canadians find themselves in similar situations.  I do not buy the excuse, however,  that we have to wait for other countries to deliver the vaccines to us.  Why, for heaven's sake, haven't we been able to produce our own vaccine?  Why have we been left in the dust as countries such as Germany, the U.K. and the United States receive the coronavirus vaccine before us?

Canada's COVID-19 response should have been swifter much more efficient.  It certainly would have helped if we had produced own vaccine.  After all, Canada is the country that gave the world a wonderful gift about a century ago. Two Canadian doctors, Frederick Banting and Charles Best, discovered insulin at the University of Toronto.  Insulin was purified and used in the successful treatment of diabetes.  

F. Banting (r) and C. Best circa 1924

In 2003, Canada experienced an outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), a viral respiratory illness caused by a coronavirus.  According to The Canadian Encyclopedia, most of the infections originated in Toronto hospitals.  Thousands were quarantined during the outbreak and 44 people died.  SARS was a severe warning of what might happen in the future.  We had ample to time to prepare for a worse scenario.  Yet we were not prepared - not buy a longshot.  Why not?

On November 30, 2020, the Toronto Star published a column by journalist Linda McQuaig about Canada's inability to produce its own vaccine.  McQuaig pointed out that Canada once led the way in vaccine research and production.  She chronicled the history of the Connaught Medical Research Laboratories, which opened in 1914 as a public health commodity at the University of Toronto with the intention of  producing diphtheria antitoxin.  Of Connaught's pioneering work,  McQuaig wrote: "From the early part of the 20th century, Connaught created high quality medical treatments and vaccines for Canadians, including vaccines for smallpox, tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough, as Canadian medical historian Christopher Rutty has documented."  It also played an important role in assisting Dr. Jonas Salk with developing the polio vaccine in the 1950s.

Alas, Connaught was privatized in the 1980s as a cost-cutting measure by the conservative government of Brian Mulroney.  Its remains have been integrated into the vaccine division of Sanofi, a French pharmaceutical giant located Paris.  How penny wise and pound foolish!  Years later, we are paying a heavy price for that decision.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Canada had struck a deal with Novavax to produce its COVID-19 vaccine in this country.  That's all fine and dandy, but it comes much too late to prevent a large number of deaths and illnesses.  It is expected to be months before this potential made-in-Canada vaccine is approved and distributed nationwide.  That's not good enough.  People are dying!  We need the vaccine now!

Canada is not a Third World country.  It is not poor nation, bereft of resources.  There was no reason why the True North couldn't have produced its own vaccine much sooner.  So, why did it not happen in time to combat this horrid COVID-19 pandemic?  Why are we in a situation in which we have to depend on other countries for vaccines?  I am angry and profoundly disappointed that this has occurred.  It's not good enough to say that the vaccines will soon get rolling, that we have to be patient a bit longer.  People are suffering and dying in the meantime.  Their lives could have been spared.  The delay has given the variants of the disease more time to spread.  

Prime Minister Trudeau has promised that all Canadians will be vaccinated by the end of September.  I  can only hope his calculation is accurate.  Remember that Canada has a relatively small population.  It's not as if we have over a billion people to vaccinate like India or over 330 million like the United States.  We have a population of about 38 million people.  According to COVID-19 Tracker Canada, as of today, more than 1,055,288 have received received at least one dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine.  Only 468,510 Canadians have been fully vaccinated.  Unfortunately, the vaccinations have been moving at a snail's pace.  Let's get rolling!  Let's get it done!


- Joanne

Monday, February 15, 2021

Valentine's Day Trivia

 

"Love is the expansion of two natures in such fashion that each includes the other, each is enriched by the other. Love is an echo in the feelings of a unity subsisting between two persons which is founded both on likeness and on complementary differences. Without the likeness there would be no attraction; without the challenge of the complementary differences there could not be the closer interweaving and the inextinguishable mutual interest which is the characteristic of all deeper relationships."   

- Felix Adler, From Life and Destiny (1913), Section 5: Love and Marriage


Yesterday was Valentine's Day and I compiled some Valentine trivia for you.

- Joanne


VALENTINE'S DAY BIRTHDAYS



FLORENCE HENDERSON, American actress and singer, best known as The Brady Bunch matriarch, was born in Dale, Indiana, USA on February 14, 1934.  She died on November 24, 2016 and the age of 82.





 



JIM KELLY, former American football quarterback in the National Football League (NFL), was born on February 14, 1960 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.





 



DREW BLEDSOE, retired American football quarterback in the National Football League (NFL), was born on February 14, 1972 in Ellensburg, Washington, USA.









SIMON PEGG, British actor, comedian, screenwriter and producer, was born in Gloucestershire, England on February 14, 1970.  He came to prominence in the United Kingdom as the co-creator of the sitcom Spaced.  He wrote and starred in the Three Flavours Cornetto film trilogy.  He also co-wrote and starred in the 2011 science fiction film Paul.






Photo Attribution:  Simon Pegg, Alice Braga & Like Hemsworth at the LA Premier… | Flickr




Mark Rutte, Dutch politician, Prime Minister of the Netherlands since 2010, was born in The Hague, in the province  of South Holland on February 14, 1967/









  







MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, American businessman and politician, was born on February 14, 1942 in Boston, Massachusetts.  He is the former mayor of New York City.








JIMMY HOFFA was born in Brazil, Indiana on February 14, 1913.  The American labour union leader served as the president of the International Brotherhood Teamsters from 1957 until 1971.  He disappeared on July 30, 1975 and was declared dead on July 30, 1982.  








SUNG HOON, South Korean actor and voice actor, was born in Nam District, Daegu, South Korea on February 14, 1983.






Photo Attribution: tenasia10

    


VALENTINE'S DAY DEATHS



WILLIAM  TECEMSWEH SHERMAN, American Major General in the Union Army during the Civil War, died in New York City on February 14, 1891 at the age of 71.







JOHNNY LONGDEN was a champion jockey.  He is the only person to win the Kentucky Derby as both an rider (1943) and as a trainer (1969).  Johnny was born on February 14, 1907 in Yorkshire, England.  His family immigrated to Canada and settled in Taber, Alberta, where he was raised.  Johnny Longden died of a stroke on his 96th birthday, February 14, 2003. 





EVENTS OF INTEREST FEBRUARY 14TH 


Circa 270 A.D.  Saint Valentine is martyred in Rome.



1400 (Circa February 14) -  Richard II, King of England from 1377 to 1399 is murdered at Pontefract Castle.  He is 33 years old.  







February 14, 1779- James Cook, British explorer, navigator and cartographer is killed in a fight with Hawaiians near Kealakekua.  He is 50 years old.







Al Capone

February 14, 1929 - St. Valentine's Day Massacre in Chicago.  Seven gangsters are killed, allegedly on the orders of mobster Al Capone.







FEBRUARY 14TH TRIVIA



Hefty Smurf has a heart tattooed on both arms.  Hefty is the son of Muscles Smurf and the twin brother of Handy Smurf.




Sunday, January 31, 2021

Language Corner: Words that have a negative connotation for women

As we all know, words matter.  Some words in the English language display a subtle or not-so-subtle anti-female bias.  

Kieran Snyder is the CEO and co-founder of Textio, an augmented writing platform that predicts the response one will receive based on the language of a particular piece of writing.  Snyder is a linguist and a writer.  She holds a PhD in linguistics from the University of Pennsylvania and her work has been published in Fortune, Re/Code, Slate and The Washington Post.

In a 2014 study for Fortune.com, entitled "The Abrasiveness Trap: High-achieving men and women are described differently in reviews," Snyder examined 248 job performance reviews from 180 people (105 men and 75 women).  The reviews were taken from 28 different tech companies of a variety of organizational sizes.

Kieran Snyder

Snyder found a common occurrence in her study.  One particular word appeared 17 times in reviews of women, and not once in any of the reviews of men.  That word was "abrasive."  Other words, such as "bossy " "aggressive," "strident," "emotional" and "irrational" were applied unequally to describe women.

The word "aggressive" did appear in two reviews of male employees, but only in the context of them being encouraged to be more aggressive.  Reviews of women, on the other hand, only ever used the term "aggressive" as a means of criticism. 

Some Subtle and Not-so Subtle Sexist Terms to Avoid


NAG: According to Merriam Webster Dictionary, nag as a verb, means "to irritate by constant scolding or urging; to badger, worry to find fault incessantly : Complain"  As a noun a nag is "a horse, especially one that is old or in poor condition"  It is also "a person who nags."

Although dictionaries such as Meriam Webster does not explicitly define a nag as a female, the implication is clear.  The word is subtly sexist.  One often hears reference to a "nagging wife," such as in the cartoon above.  How often does one hear the term "nagging husband?"  Some terms that are        similar to nag include "fishwife," "hen-pecked," "shrew"  and "harridan."  We hear of a "hen-pecked husband."  When do we hear of a "hen-pecked husband?" One of William Shakespeare's most well=known plays is titled The Taming of the Shrew.

SPINSTER and OLD MAID:  There are no similar terms for older unmarried men.  They are simply described as a "confirmed bachelor" or a "lifelong bachelor."  The words spinster and old maid are pejoratives.  They conger up an image of  a shy, unattractive or vey ugly woman.  Think of the card game "Old Maid."  The picture on the "Old Maid" card is that of a very hideous looking woman.

EFFETTE:  According to Merriam Webster, the word effette is derived from the word Latin word "effetus," meaning "no longer fruitful."   For a time it was used to describe an animal no longer capable of producing offspring.  As an adjective, it now means "lacking strength, courage or spirit; resembling a woman."

WORKING MOM:  Have you ever head of a "working dad?"

SOCCER MOM:  Have you ever heard of a "soccer dad?"

STRIDENT:  How many times does one hear female leaders or politicians described  as being "strident" or having a "strident voice."  That's exactly what happened to Hillary Clinton.  Let me know when you hear a male described as "strident" or "having a strident voice."

There are many more words I could include on this list.  There is clearly an anti-female bias in the language we speak.


- Joanne

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

6 Iconic Film Posters With The Cars That Could've Been

Here is something for car lovers.  The UK's Bristol Street Motors has recreated six of the most iconic car movie posters.  They feature cars that could have been famous, but didn't quite make the cut.  I hope you find it entertaining and informative, even if you are not an automobile enthusiast.

- Joanne


Alternative Pop Culture Cars

 In some films, the cars can become bigger stars than the actors that drive them. The DeLorean DMC-12 from Back to the Future is iconic in it’s own right, but did you know the films could have turned out with completely different motor stars? 

Bristol Street Motors have uncovered that iconic movie cars of the past weren’t always the original plan and have reimagined what the movie posters would have looked like if their alternatives were used.

 Aston Martin DB5 v Blower Bentley

Goldfinger (1964)


 007 could have easily been driving a 1931 Blower Bentley instead of the now-iconic Aston Martin DB5 in the Goldfinger movie. Bristol Street Motors found that in the novels, Bond was something of a car nut and counted his treasured Blower Bentley as his own personal hobby.

 As revealed by Top Gear’s 50 Years of Bond Cars special, author Ian Fleming received a letter from a fan one day encouraging the author to “have the decency to fix him up with a decent bit of machinery”, as the Blower Bentley was dated and over 20 years old. 

Fleming gave Bond an Aston Martin DB3 for the Goldfinger novel, which updated to the classic DB5 when the movie was released 5 years later.  

It was by pure chance that The Lincoln Futura made it into the Bond film, looking extremely futuristic back in 1966.


Lincoln Futura v Cadillac Series 62

Batman (1966)

It was originally planned that the Batmobile was to be a 1959 Cadillac, but 20th Century Fox announced they needed something faster for Batman to drive. Hollywood car designer George Barris was hired but with just three short weeks until filming started, he bought the Futura and dawned it with Batman-esque features and fail fins, and the rest is history.

 

Volkswagen Beetle v Volvo P1800  

The Love Bug (1968)

The Volkswagen Beetle, known as Herbie, found fame in The Love Bug but was close to never making it to the big screen at all.

 The movie producers had no specific car in mind to star in the film, and so held a casting call. Car manufacturers could show their cars to Disney executives and crew who would be working on the movie. There were Toyotos, a TVR and the Volvo P1800 all in for a chance as playing Herbie. 

During the audition, the Volkswagen Beetle was the only car to elicit an emotional reaction from the crew, with many of them reaching out to pet it. VW was offered the chance to feature their Beetle in the film as a result of this.

 

Mini Cooper v Fiat 500

Italian Job (1969) 


The Italian Job is known as one of the most iconic movies ever made. The movie was considered to be totally original upon its release. However, what people don’t know about is how close the Mini Coopers were to being replaced with Fiat 500s. The two cars have a close rivalry now due to their similar size and target audience, and back in 1969 it was similar. 

According to Michael Deeley, the British Motor Cooperation sold the production three Mini Coopers at cost price but they had to buy an additional 30 for action scenes. Alternatively, Fiat boss Gianni Agnelli offered an unlimited supply of top-of-the-range Fait 500s for free. He also offered Deeley a Ferrari and $50,000 towards the picture. Upon consideration, Deeley couldn’t make sense of British Crooks driving Italian-produced cars in Italy, so decided to stick with Mini Coopers.

 

Ferrari 308 GTS v Porsche 928

Magnum PI (1978)

Originally, the 6 foot 4 actor Tom Selleck, who played the character of Thomas Sullivan Magnum lll, was supposed to be driving a Porsche 928. Unfortunately, Porsche refused to allow their car to be specially altered for the tall actor, and producers were forced to look for alternatives. Step forward Ferarri with their 308 GTS – they were happy to modify their car to house Selleck and the car became an icon.

 

Delorean DMC 12 v A Refrigerator

Back To The Future (1985)

A firm favourite from our childhoods, fans will be surprised to know that the famous scene of Doc and Marty’s time-travelling Delorean disappearing in a line of smoke and fire almost never happened. Bristol Street discovered that in the first two drafts of the movie, a lead lined refrigerator took the role of the time machine. However, when mobility became an issue, co-author Bob Zemeckis dared to ask, “Wouldn’t it make more sense to build the time machine into a car?”


* Bristol Street Motors operate under the Vertu Motors Group.  Serving England from its local dealerships, it represents 14 of the world's major manufacturers as well as offering a wide variety of quality assured used cars across a range of the best-known car franchises.

https://www.bristolstreet.co.uk

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Brian Sicknick: The Capitol Police officer who was killed in the storming of the U.S. Capitol


Capitol Police Officer Brian D. Sicknick died at 9:30 p.m. on January 7, 2021.  Let's not forget that name.  Let's not forget that face.  Sicknick died protecting others.  He died defending democracy from an unruly mob of neo-Nazis. far-right extremists and white supremacists.  He died in hospital from the injuries he sustained in the violent siege on Capitol Hill on January 6th.  Authorities say he was injured "while "physically engaging" with rioters.  Two law enforcement officers informed The Associated Press that Officer Sicknick was hit on the head with a fire extinguisher during the riot.

Sicknick was 42 years old when he lost his life.  He was from South River, New Jersey and he was the youngest of three sons.  In 2008, he joined the Capitol Police.  According to s biography issued by his family, Officer Sicknick is survived by his parents, Gladys and Charles Sicknick, his brothers Ken and Craig, and his longtime girlfriend, Sandra Garza.  In his leisure time, Sicknick rescued and tended to dachshunds. He was also a fan of the New Jersey Devils hockey team.


Officer Brian Sicknick

Officer Sicknick's death. at the hands of pro-Trump insurgents, is being investigated as a homicide.  A good man is dead because Donald Trump tried to subvert democracy.  Trump could not and would not accept defeat in the November 3, 2020 election.  He urged his followers to go to Washington and to be tough.  On January 6th, his supporters shouted that they were in the Capitol at the invitation of the president.  This what four years of Trumpism in the United States has brought to bear.  How sad and disgraceful!  America, is this where you want to be? Is this the image of you that you want the world to see?   Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz, what would you say to Officer Sicknick's grieving family?


- Joanne

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Trump's Last Stand: Reflections on the Storming of the Capitol


It's heard to swallow what happened in Washington, D.C. on January 6, 2021.  On that fateful day, the U.S. Capitol was invaded for the first time since the War of 1812.  This time, however, the invasion did not come from an outside enemy.  Oh no.  This time, it was domestic.  It came from within and it came at the bidding of a man who swore to uphold, defend and protect the Constitution of the United States.

Donald J. Trump,, the 45th President of the Republic, actively encouraged violence and sedition.  He incited his extreme, right-wing, neo-Nazi followers to march on the Capitol building in Washington, D.C.  The president aided and abetted this insurrection and he should be held accountable for this heinous crime and for the other criminal acts he has committed during his presidency..  

Millions of Americans and people around the world witnessed the horrifying events in Washington on their television screens.  Right before their eyes, live and in colour, they saw the desecration of the most sacred temple of American democracy.  They watched in stunned disbelief as the Capitol building was vandalized and violated by an unruly mob.  For several hours, parts of the building were occupied and ransacked, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office.  It was all very surreal.  Yet, it really happened, thanks to Donald Trump, his spineless sycophants in the Republican Party and his cult-like adherents.

Unfortunately, far too few Americans hold the president responsible for what happened in Washington.  According to a new YouGov poll, a majority of Republican voters named President-elect Joe Biden as the culprit rather than Donald Trump.  1,450 eligible voters were surveyed and 52 percent of Republicans blamed Biden rather than Trump.  In comparison, only 28 percent of Republicans pointed the finger at the president for inciting the violence, while 26 percent blamed congressional Republicans for attempting to block the final tally of Biden's Electoral College win. 

This should not be a partisan issue.  It is a matter of upholding democracy and the rule of law.  Yes, Donald Trump received over 74 million votes, but Joe Biden received over 81 million votes.  The Electoral College confirmed Joe Biden's victory in the 2020 election with 306 to 232 the final count. .  Biden was the clear winner and accusations of electoral fraud were proven baseless and were rejected by numerous courts. 

Sadly, fascism has come to America in the form of right-wing extremists who believe they are patriots and who wrap themselves in the American flag.  The distressing fact is that so many Republican voters still support Donald Trump's delusional conspiracy theories.  They contend that the election was rigged and that it was stolen from Trump.  They believe this without any credible proof.  In fact, the evidence shows that the election was free and fair.  

Are these Republican voters so brainwashed, their minds so addled that they cannot see the truth - or is it that they prefer to ignore the facts?  On January 6th, the day that lawmakers were to meet to make Joe Biden's Electoral College victory official. Donald Trump held a rally and urged his supporters  to march on Capitol Hill.  Trump told the crowd: "You'll never take back your country with weakness.  You have to show strength and you have to be strong."   It was Donald Trump, not Joe Biden, who egged on his followers and caused them to wreak havoc.  He gave them his blessing and the green light to act as they did.

Since media have posed some hard questions about the storming of Capitol.  Reporters and broadcasters have demanded to know why there was such poor security around Capitol Hill.  Why were the insurgents allowed to stand on the steps of the Capitol, break windows and vandalize offices.?  Why were police so ill-prepared for what happened?  For weeks Donald Trump exhorted his followers to to go to Washington on January 6th.  It was no secret.  It was no surprise when his ardent supporters obeyed him.  What was surprising and terribly shocking was that law enforcers were so ill-prepared for what happened.  Why were Trumps band of thugs, anti-Semites and white supremacists able to breach security so easily?  Would the situation have been different if a majority of the Capitol invaders had been black?  These questions cannot be ignored.  They cannot be brushed away.

Make no mistake.  What has taken root in the United States is not conservatism, but Trumpism, and it's this Trumpism that must be soundly defeated if the U.S. is to remain a viable democracy.  For the safety of the American people and for the sake of the free world, Donald Trump must be removed from the White House as soon as possible. This president is not fit for office.  He is clearly unstable, unhinged and very dangerous.  Donald Trump is a cornered man.  He is desperate and desperate people take desperate measures.  

This president  must be held accountable for his actions and for his high crimes and misdemeanours.  He should do the right thing and resign.  Failing that, the 25th Amendment should be invoked.  If that does not happen, Donald Trump must be impeached for a second time, whether he is convicted or not. This must be done so that no president can be allowed to undermine democracy the way he has.  Donald Trump is not above the law and he must never be allowed to hold office in the United States again.  Every day he remains in the White House, America is in peril.  

I am so glad that Twitter permanently banned Donald Trump.  He does not deserve any forum to spew his hatred, his venom and his lies.  He should not be permitted to incite violence.  Enough is enough is enough  Donald Trump has got to go before he causes further damage to the democratic fabric of the Republic.  Five people, including a police officer, died in Wednesday's attempted coup.  Trump's term in office ends on January 20th.  Does the U.S. need more violence and more deaths during that time:?


- Joanne