Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Big Brother: Oh the Possibilities

I have been slow in recovering from the last US Election. I admit to being a life-long Democrat and more liberal than is deemed decent by certain elements of the American dream. I'm finding it difficult to believe that the election was won by the 'other side'. I suspect, though I don't want to admit it, or think about it too closely, that I now understand just how those steadfast opponents of Bill Clinton felt while I was celebrating his two elections. No one questioned that he won, though.

My husband reminded me yesterday that more people in the UK voted for Big Brother, the foray into TV voyerism than in the General Election which elected Tony Blair the last time around. And it occured to me that perhaps the time has come to consider that method for electing the President of the United States. In fact, it would work in any country.

Consider putting all the candidates, whether Republican or Democrat -- and include the primary candidates, too and the Green Party and Ralph Nader (I think he might be a party by now) and put them all together in a Big Brother house with TV cameras on them 24/7. For however long it would take, but no longer than a year (well that's a short time compared with what the rest of us have to put up with)

The General Public could then vote them off one week at a time, until there is only one left. Our new President! We would see all of them as they really are -- we might even get some real and honest debate, instead of the stilted soundbit variety we have now. We'd finally see what we will never see the way it is now when they are all made up and in their best suits or casual outfits. And it wouldn't matter how much money was coughed up on mindless and endless TV ads. Everything would come from the candidates own mouth. No one could speak on their behalf.

Oh don't worry about an incumbent President. From what I see they don't do anything much except campaign anyway! And maybe the way would be that when an incumbent is running we have to do it the way we do now. Just save Big Brother for the Free For All. We could start now and have it run 4 years until the next election!

Wouldn't the best thing would be to go back to paper ballots. It works in Europe. It's a very cheap and easy way to ensure that everybody can vote. No technicians needed, nothing to break down. A paper and a pen. And people who know how to count. At the very least every voter should be guaranteed a paper ballot should machines breakdown or not be able to cope with voter turnout. Period.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

The Art of Giving

Perhaps it's a particular peculiarity in Britain. But it would seem that no matter how altruistic a person may be, or how popular an individual, what great fun it is to raise him or her to great heights and then what great joy to see how far we can make them sink in public estimation.

After the devastation of the Asian tsunami the day after Christmas, there were immediate and generous gifts from the world-wide general public -- The last figure I heard about was around £2 billion. Governments seemed to be competing with each other to be the most generous. Some famous people donated $1 million. The general public put governments to shame, proving once again 'the power of the people.' Three cheers for us!!!

Last week the editorials and newspaper articles began. The began to judge the motivation behind the generosity of both the general public and governments. Part of the 3 estate's godhead, I presume. This sitting in judgement.

All of us have motivation for what we do. Sometimes good, sometimes not so good and probably most often both. The notion of whether or not what we have done or given is somehow tainted by whatever motivated us is too complicated and too unfair to be bandied about by newspapers and other media, especially that 'bastion of our morals' which has its own questionable motivations to answer for.

It seems to me that this outpouring of money has been an overwhelming tribute to the nature of the human spirit. That we are a caring and giving humanity. We do not like to see our fellow human beings suffer and that we want to help in ways that we can. We are even grateful for the opportunity.

Friday, January 07, 2005

An Olympian Event

Well, Christmas is over at last. The hurculean annual frenzy is laid to rest. The decorations are down and the Christmas tree is in the garden waiting to be unceremoniously dumped! I am still recovering from the onslaught of it all. The preparations, the cooking, the shopping -- the everything.

For many years I have believed it would be a great idea to have Christmas every four years -- to coincide with Leap Year. Then we'd have an extra day to get ready. Of course most men haven't a clue about this -- and whenever we try to explain it to them they get this horrible look on their faces that it might cost money and please just get on with it and stop complaining -- oh and keep me out of it!

I grew up in the USA. One of the great benchmarks of the American Calendar is Thanksgiving. It helps keep the season under control -- at least calendar-wise. This is also true in many European countries that don't have any decorations up in the stores until Advent. In England the madness starts before Halloween. Mid-October. In the past few years my Thanksgiving benchmark was to have all my presents bought by Thanksgiving. Didn't work this year.

Also I don't want to cook anymore than absolutely necessary on Christmas Day. Ideally, I would be eating out on that day, but the looks of horror on my husband and sons faces of not being home for the big Meal is best not described. But I'm the cook and I try to make it easy on myself -- no roast turkey and all the trimmings. No argument about this because we've just had it all for Thanksgiving anyway. We have fillet of beef (30 minutes in the oven) twice baked potatos (made in advance and frozen) a vegetable casserole (made the day before in need of reheating) bearnaise sauce (made in advance) and a Yule log (made before and frozen till the day). Also, I've trained my boys to share in the serving and cooking.

So, I've taken care of Christmas Day. But not the rest of it. Not the relatives visiting -- and a joy it is to have them -- the present wrapping and last minute shopping, the decorating -- this year, I could not get enthusiastic about the tree -- fortunately youngest son took care of that!

The thing is though -- I still remember the days when there was such a thing as 'Christmas Spirit' -- people don't really talk about that anymore. I am so old that I remember when each year right after Thanksgiving the little Carol books would appear for our music lessons in school. I can't quite picture the cover except that it was a night time snow scene with carolers. The first carol was, I think, Silent Night. We sang all the carols in the book -- and they were all there. We didn't really need the booklets for the first verses, we all knew them by heart.

For me, it's a sad cultural loss that our children no longer have that experience. Oh, they do to some extent if they go to Sunday School -- but then it's once a week. The Christian Culture is not just about creed, nor is the culture of any religion. I understand the motivation behind political correctness and the separation of church and state. But it seems that political correctness does not have to mean the exclusion of this part of our cultural history, but rather could mean the inclusion of a wider range of cultural history.

Christmas is now about celebrating. Politicians of Correctness now are using terms to deny the religiousity of the day. So what are we celebrating? Is 'Peace on Earth, Good Will to All Men' still an acceptible message for our children?

Is the Spirit of Christmas no more than the Ghost of Christmas Past.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

An Invitation to Think

Well, from now on, everyday, I can comment to the world about my opinion and without interruption. But what is the fun without feedback no matter how dire! I may amuse be amused or confuse and be confused -- one day's moody sumise, may be tomorrows comic surprise.

Old woman, grande dame, superficial and profound imp -- c'est moi. I am opinionated and know nothing. I am superstitious when not pragmatic. I am vulnerable, pliable and impossible -- fun and an absolute bore. But no matter -- I have now a voice that can now be heard round the world and possible more besides.

There is more work to be done. I have a website to activate and these pages, no doubt without comment till I do, to transfer. And then my voice shall be set free.