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friday favourites :: 29.07.11

ever have one of those weeks where it felt like the world was actually conspiring to stop you from making any kind of progress whatsoever? i seem to have had a lot of them lately, which leads me to believe that either the cosmos is storing up some tremendous, mind-blowing gift for me [any time now, people, any time], or that i was, as i've long suspected, a very nasty person in a former life.

but there are people having worse weeks than me. every time i need to be reminded of that, i turn on the news and behold the poor, struggling journalists trying to get straight answers out of american politicians. it's kind of remarkable to hear a "yes/ no" question answered using almost every word in the english language except yes or no. of course, if things don't improve, there are going to be a lot of people having very bad weeks in the near future and not the ones who probably deserve to.

still, there are good things in the world. sometimes you just have to look very carefully. or think about it. here are a few things that helped me shake off the funk, at least temporarily.


pushed to the left and loving it :: whenever people gripe about the lack of good journalistic work on the internet, i want you to point them towards this blog. this woman's research is incredible and her writing style is extremely readable. it's also a fascinating look into the mind of someone who has been surprised by the evolution of her own political ideas. she even says nice things about a member of my family, although i didn't realise that until i had subscribed to her blog for a while.

maps :: i don't know where exactly this started, but i find maps absolutely fascinating. perhaps it's because, when i'm on the ground, i tend to get sort of lost in the details, so i find the contrast of a bird's eye view strangely refreshing. or maybe it's because it helps me visualise a place i've been, which is useful both as a writer and as a person who values a good bout of escapism.

MORE FAVOURITES AND THE WEEKLY CAT PIC RIGHT AFTER THE BREAK...



i do love randomly playing around with google earth, certainly [although- and i realise how sad this sounds- i get vertigo if i try to "move" over water], but i also have a collection of old-fashioned paper maps of places where i've been. i have a rule about only going buying maps of cities i've visited [often while i'm there]. i've only broken that rule once and it didn't end well.

but mostly, my map hobby allows me to enjoy cities, not destroy them, even if it's from a distance.

arrested development :: i have dom to thank for introducing me to a lot of television, but this one really deserves a special mention. it's not just that it's a funny show with memorable characters and good dialogue, the magic is really in the levels of wordplay and the incredible way in which seemingly random elements in the stories are tied together- sometimes across months or even between seasons. a film has been in development since the series was canceled, but five years on, they've apparently just got a working script finished... hey guys, if you need help i'm right here!!! until things come together, we can just be relieved that dvds of the series are plentiful and cheap and repeated viewings just seem to bring out more and more elements you missed before.

a special lady :: my mom is celebrating a milestone birthday this week and, certainly, talking to her continues to be one of my favourite parts of any day.

i will say that, while i'm happy that the heat wave has passed, i am a little bummed that this has also meant the passing of the pool. well, that and the fact that we needed to take showers.

this week, my hope is that the united states will manage to figure out a solution to their debt ceiling problem, just so that i can hear about something else. i'm also hoping that the high-pressure wave that seems to have lingered over me for too long will finally see fit to move on. seriously, i think i deserve a break.

thanks for reading and feel free to share some of the things that perked you up in the last seven days.

this week's kitty is the lovely princess julia, captured during prime napping hours. and yes, that is a large stuffed oscar the grouch that she's cuddling. if you'd lived with her this week, you'd understand why that choice is so incredibly appropriate. since she and her brother seth just turned two, i'll either put it down to the "terrible twos" or to her being a typically moody teenaged girl, depending on what system you're using.

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as long as you're here, why not read more?

losers?

just a short time ago, i waxed prosaic about trump supporters who felt betrayed by their candidate pursuing in office the exact things that he said he would. short version: i have no sympathy.

today is a bit different. in the wake of america's bombing of a syrian air strip, in response to a chemical weapons attack by the syrian government, my facebook and twitter feeds were peppered with plaintive shades of "we believed you". these are the people who heard trump say that he wanted the united states to step back and focus on defending its own. indeed, trump did say such things, over and over; america cannot be the policeman of the world. even arch-liberal cynics like me had to admit that this was a refreshing argument to hear from someone outside the paul family, and, could easily have been turned into trump's greatest argument against hillary clinton. [he chose to go another way, which also worked.]

trump also said, repeatedly, that america needed to invest heavily …

long division

after the united states election last year, there were the usual calls for the country to unite behind the new president. that never happens anymore, because, since george w. bush scored a victory in 2004, having launched the country into a war in iraq for no reason, the people on the losing side of a presidential election have been pretty bloody angry about it. democrats hated bush 43. republicans really hated obama. democrats really hate trump.

it didn't help that trump didn't make the typical conciliatory gestures like including a couple of members of the opposite party in his cabinet, or encouraging his party to proceed slowly with contentious legislation. barack obama arguably wasted at least two and as many as six years of his tenure as president trying to play peacemaker before he felt sufficiently safe to just say "screw you guys" and start governing around the ridiculous congress he was forced to deal with. not-giving-a-shit obama was the best president in …

don't speak

you might think that it sounds dramatic, but linguistic genocide is something that happens. people in power will go to great lengths to eradicate certain languages, not just for the sheer joy of making the world a lesser place, but as a way of beating down the culture that's associated with it. language has a unique reciprocal bond with culture, and every group that has attempted to break down another has recognised that forbidding a cultural group from communicating in their own language is an extremely effective way to tear apart their culture.

there are lots [and lots and lots and lots] of examples of this sort of thing, some successful, some not, but far too many to cover in one blog post. however, i thought it was worth looking at some languages that have been the subjects of active repression, and what the political consequences of that have been.

devastation :: the native north american languages :: it should come as no surprise that the largest genocide in history [by a ma…