Monday, October 27, 2014

Holidays we need

I would like the day after Thanksgiving to be a national holiday, and I would like the same to apply to Christmas Eve and the day after Christmas ("Boxing Day" in the UK). On the other hand, as a former business owner, I am adverse to increasing the number of mandatory holidays. What three existing holidays would I sacrifice in favor of the ones I would prefer? As a child, I very much appreciated November 11, which we knew as "Armistice Day". I was born almost ten years after the end of WWI, but it was fresh in the minds of my elders. Britain had lost many of its young adults, particularly males of the "officer class". That day is known as "Veteran's Day" in the US, of course, and I'm certainly not opposed to honoring those who have served our country. I would combine the celebration of the service with those who sacrifice their lives, "Memorial Day", We don't think much of Columbus day in California, and my guess is that many young people could not tell you the date on which it is observed. Except for those working for federal, state, and local governments, it is not widely observed. The business world dislikes it because no mail is delivered that day. Efforts to honor Leif Erikson and "Indigenous People Day" instead have drawn little traction and should go. Finding a third day to drop is somewhat harder. The relatively recent combination of "President's Day", to honor our two most famous presidents is not a day that I would sacrifice. I am left with a relatively recent creation the day that honors Martin Luther King, Jr. Adding this as an extra holiday displeased the world of business, and perhaps that attitude was reinforced by racism and by conservatives who complained about his womanizing. If we were to eliminate that holiday, I am sure those who do so would be accused, in turn, of racism. Oh well, perhaps the best answer is to allow the workforce to go home a little early on Christmas Eve instead...

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Ebola Panic

One person from West Africa has died in the United States from Ebola. Two nurses who treated him became infected, both of whom seem likely to survive. (One is reported to have recovered already.) The TV news, the newspapers, and other media are full of Ebola stories. It is too early to determine if it has already been eliminated, but even if that is not the case, the impact of this disease in the United States will be minimal. We seem powerless to enact sensible gun laws, and hundreds of our citizens are killed by gunfire every year. Despite excellent roads, proactive enforcement of traffic laws, and all of our efforts to avoid casualties, hundreds of our citizens die every year from road accidents. Despite these human tragedies, the public has plaid a much greater attention on Ebola these past few weeks. Perhaps it is understandable our fears of, all of an unfamiliar disease receives such prominence, but I look forward to the time when its impact here is forgotten.

Monday, October 13, 2014

What's in a name?

I recently saw a television program about the way in which different generations of royal children have been raised. Recently, it was announced that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (William and Kate to most people) are expecting a second child. This made me speculate on what the first name of the child might be. Any royal baby may have many names, but I am really only thinking about the name which will be in common use. If the baby is a girl, Will it be time for another Elizabeth? Royal names often repeat earlier names used in the family, but I don't expect the child to be called "Diana". What if it is a second son? I don't expect Charles or Edward for example, to be selected. Perhaps "Phillip", after his great-grandfather. It would be a nice tribute to the Scotts if he were to receive a Scottish name, "Gavin" and "Hamish" would be going to far. "Alistair" is a good name, but not linked to the royal family. "Andrew" seems to be a possibility. One might think that such modern parents as William and Kate could choose any name they liked, but they are a wise couple and will probably conform to tradition.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Luverly Grub

What does "rasher" mean, other than "more rash"? It is the term used in the UK for what we call "slices" of bacon. It brings back memories of food I used to eat in the UK and haven't seen lately. My memories fall into three main categories: food that I am fond of; food that I feel indifferent about; and food that I shall be happy never to eat again. Some of the food I am fond of but am not able to readily get in the US include: Finnan Haddock and Kippers at breakfast; broad beans, kedgeree, steak & kidney pie, veal & ham pie, pork pie, gooseberry fool, summer pudding, loganberries, greengages, and damsons. Some I manage to find, such as Marmite and rabbit. Here are some examples of food that I wouldn't mind encountering again, but which I would not actively seek out. This would include vegetable marrow, rice pudding, and Jerusalem artichokes I shall be delighted never to be confronted with any of the following: Yorkshire pudding, suet puddings, and tapioca.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The enemy of my enemy

There is a wise saying that such a person is my friend. In my lifetime, an example of this was the Soviet Union in WWll. Less than twenty years earlier , Britain was still using military force in an unsuccessful effort to crush the Bolshevik regime, and the Russians were trying to stir up conflict against the British Raj in India. But once the Germans attacked the Soviet Union, the Russians became our allies. We deplore the Syrian government's murderous assaults on many of its citizens. The Obama administration came close to attacking Syria some years ago, chanting "Assad must go. We now have a common enemy , the Islamist extremists known by various names, including Isil. Syria is engaged in a civil war with various rebel groups, ranging from 'Moderates" to Al Qaida affiliates. Instead of trying to reach an understanding with the Syrians that we may seek permission--probably in back channels, because the Syrians would not agree openly to our attacking Isil on Syrian territory-- we brazenly announce that we shall ignore the frontier in order to attack our common enemy. Obama is seeking congressional approval to provide open support to"moderate" rebels. I fear that these "approved" rebels may be more interested in the fight against the Damascus regime than in defeating Isil. I suggest we should concentrate on the one prime and common enemy at a time, quietly working with the enemies of our enemy.