Pumped for Trump

OK, I’m going to lay my cards on the table. I voted Trump.


Meme generator in same vicinity as rage generator

No, I didn’t. Let me repeat: I did not vote for Donald Jehoshaphat Trump to be President of the United States of America. That was just an experiment to see how you felt immediately after reading it. Pleasure at finding a kindred spirit? Pity? Disgust or even rage bordering on nausea?


Rage so great it can be seen from space

Did you even get past the first sentence (let alone the headline) in order to read this plot twist, or are the saloon doors still rattling back and forth from the speed of your exit?


There’s a not-quote-apropos YouTube moment for everything

The truth is, I voted none of the above, which in the eyes of some Democrats makes me just as bad as the people who voted Nader in 2000. (I voted Nader in 2000.)


And a butterfly flapped its wings

Not long after abstaining from my civic duty, I then had the audacity to hope that it was too early to call Trumpageddon.

This is a view I still hold.

I can read* (*the question is what one should be reading) and observe exquisitely unpresidential press conferences. I see how it looks. Amateur hour with clowns at the head table.

Check please

And yet, I can’t help but feel that anyone this widely reviled by the forces arrayed against him, including a press corps which made him despite themselves and is itching to unmake him (with the tremendous help of unforced errors), and political opponents more concerned about their stalled career trajectories than the nation’s stability, can’t be all bad.

He also seems inclined to want to act on his campaign promises.*

Sure he’s got his bad points, like clumsily showing concern for America’s borders by wanting to build a wall instead of a fence, or having disturbing tendencies to occasionally speak ugly truths (e.g., “for too many of our citizens, a different reality exists: mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities; rusted out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation…”, “You think our country’s so innocent?”) in between ugly tweets. His every syllable isn’t scripted like a Hillary Clinton’s, and a lot of people like a script.

Setting aside the pesky line of succession, I’m sure we can all think of a hundred other qualified applicants for head of state.


He’ll do

If you’re in the IMPEACH HIM NOW crowd

or the coup d’état crowd


When all you have is a guillotine, every problem looks like a neck

or even the please-report-yourself-to-the-Secret-Service crowd

Tainting the grassy knoll brand forevermore

imagine the almighty turmoil the country would go through if there were a transfer of power in the current climate. Remember that 60 million of your fellow Americans voted for him. They had their reasons, just as you did yours for voting Clinton, or third party, or not at all.

Maybe you have imagined it

Worst. Weather. Ever.

and still feel it’s worth it; maybe you’d be right. It’s something thoughtful people should be able to debate in a reasonable way.

Like a helping of irony with that?

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How To Deal With People You Disagree With

bernerslee
Photo credit: Whoever was standing in front of Tim Berners-Lee

Dealing with people in real life is beyond the remit of this advice column. With any luck you won’t meet many, as live human beings are notoriously difficult to hammer into shape. We shall concern ourselves with replying to those in the splendid human construct known as social media.

You see a contrary opinion online. An itch starts in your brain, impossible to ignore. It must be scratched! But how do you get to it?

newbrain

Through your keyboard. (Real warriors use keyboards, not touch screens.)

1. Take a deep breath, it will oxygenate your blood. Maybe have a nice cup of tea before getting down to work, if tea’s your cup of tea.

2. The time-honoured practice of cracking your knuckles is an over-used trope, but do it if it you’re superstitious. Just don’t overdo it, you’ll be needing those fingers in good working order.

3. We’ll dispense with the numbering system; the point is made that this is a logical process.

Examine the enemy’s argument closely for flaws. (‘Enemy’ is merely convenient shorthand.) You might get lucky straight off the bat: have they even made an argument? Opinions are like bowling balls—they’re bound to have holes in them.

1-eroclp2egkamt0rxg-tduq
one metaphor at a time please

Be polite. It’s a rare skill, often confused with cowardice. It will confuse the enemy.

If this is a factual fray, document, document, document. Be meticulous with your sources and be ready at a moment’s notice to provide links, preferably more than one should your adversary show an indifference to your preferred authority. Bear in mind that both The Guardian and the Daily Mail (two well known mines to go digging for fool’s gold), which both employ professional journalists (not necessarily a compliment), are equally unreliable in matters of opinion, which often masquerades as fact.

Determine if the opinion is theirs or somebody else’s. Have they put in the work to hold it all by themselves? Are you going to attempt to knock them off a bandwagon, or are they standing on carefully prepared ground? If the latter, you may wish to retreat to fight another day, or better yet, accept that perspectives can differ. Even the itchiest brain can learn to accept this as a scratch of sorts.

Look for signs of hypocrisy. Should you find it, consider the labor-saving strategy of allowing them to tie their noose with their own words. Note that any gratification derived may be a private affair, given that hypocrisy is usually vampiric in nature.

1-0zg-rkwanbcyaklgxdtb4w
it’s obvious who’s the fairest of them all

Use spellcheck if you don’t trust yourself, it’s right there on Google. Generally conform to accepted grammatical norms. Teasing grammar Nazis crosses the line into cruelty.

Common mistakes
Don’t say “We’ll have to agree to disagree.” Whoever says this first, loses. While some may see this as politely sweeping away the gauntlet laid down, in truth it is the equivalent of loudly stomping off. There is no need to belabour the obvious.

Whatever you do never announce that you’re leaving the discussion. This cannot be stressed enough. If you want to go, just go. Some warriors are amazed this is even an option.

Refrain from posting immediately prior to a period of being out of contact with the www, e.g., going to a wedding or funeral, a session of lovemaking, etc. I know you pride yourself on your ability to multitask, but should you think up a better comeback whilst indisposed, the itch will be visited upon you tenfold.

If you think your opponent is reading what he or she wants to read rather than what you wrote, well, everybody thinks this. Almost everybody is right. The mistake here is to openly parade your amazement.

Do not ‘Like’ as an 11-dimensional chess gambit, should your chosen media platform offer this or a similar cheesy option. Duel with words, not rancid marshmallows.

What to do if you ‘win’
Disabuse yourself of the notion that you have. Hardly anybody ever ‘wins’, no matter what humble admissions are uttered in the aftermath. The skull is a hardened silo impervious to penetration by even the most sensible argument; while the brain inside may be slammed and partially flattened by the impact of a new idea, it reliably pops back into its original shape.

There are, however, documented cases of people who actually have had their mind changed by a disembodied consciousness filtered through this thing we call the internet:

 

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Have a seat

catapult

I like to think that after 48 years on this Earth I’ve developed a little patience, but 13 weeks for an armchair, Multiyork? God knows how our lives will have moved on in 13 weeks.

Unfortunately they carried the only chair my wife and I were willing to allow across the threshold into our home, so it seemed we were stuck. Then one of us – it doesn’t matter who – mentioned IKEA. They weren’t shouting, it’s meant to be in all caps.

A quick search brought the Strandmon to our attention. [Google Translate: it means Strandmon.] While it didn’t possess the aesthetic perfection that we had heretofore felt necessary, it had other qualities which we also hold in esteem: it was a fraction of the price of the überchair, and it was available within that highly desireable timeframe of now. It wasn’t just a showroom tease.

Three trains and a bus (evidently the IKEA Bus – “Does this go to IKEA?” every other person asked as they got on) brought us to the big blue and yellow box in Tottenham/London, where thanks to many internet reviewers we were prepared to run a gauntlet of poor customer service.

We tracked down the chair. First we confirmed that we could bear the sight of it, as much of the life of a chair consists of not actually sitting in it, but having to look at it. Armchairs are very susceptible to being ugly. The Strandmon is too curvy and spindly for my taste, but that was better than an overstuffed monstrosity designed for Jabba the Hut.

jabba

When you’re considering a chair, naturally you ponder all of the sitting to come. At a basic level it has to be an improvement over the lack of a chair. Once it gets you off the ground, does it hold you the way you like to be held? Will you have worthy thoughts in it? Read great books? That’s not to say you can’t fall asleep gently drooling in front of bad TV, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire tumbled to the side. It’s just that whatever the future holds, it will include this chair in which you will spend some time pondering the future, an infinite loop which complicates the buying decision.

£195 resimplified the decision. It was available in a nice enough colour+fabric, I quickly divined that the high side wings would cradle my lolling head wonderfully, and apparently it passed the necessary tests back when it was in basic training on how to be a chair, so we got it.

booth

Our first point of contact with an employee was to check it was in stock. She unbruskly and unrudely confirmed it was, then led us most of the way to its location in the warehouse in case we should get lost

raiderswarehouse2

I wrestled Strandmon onto a trolley

ikea1

and after a bit of queuetime discussing how swimmingly it was all going we had our second encounter, a very nonunpleasant cashier who bid us have a nice day. So far we were having one. The direction of the day took a wrong turn when we pulled into the home delivery bay and discovered that our postcode was outside the store’s delivery zone and therefore this particular Strandmon wasn’t going anywhere. We took a number and waited for a refund from a woman who once again failed to achieve targets for surliness, then rubbed our faces in it with vouchers for a happy meal to make up for the disappointment of having to order it online instead.

meal

Update
Once it arrived it fit right in; accusations of curviness and spindliness were quickly forgotten.

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Memories are made of this

Went to Merriments Gardens today, not far from home in East Sussex. Got lots of colourful flower pics, but this one, haphazardly composed, less than expertly exposed, and a bit blurry, was my favourite:

merriments

Visit Marle Place, Scotney Castle and Motisfont Abbey

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The only one who could ever reach me


spotted in the window of Gosh! alongside these

Life on Krypton was Dullsville. People forget that if everybody has super powers, nobody has them. Even Super Dog found nothing special in fetching a stick thrown halfway around the planet. The second most exciting thing that had ever happened was when Krypton exploded. Unfortunately that occurred just as Supergirl was preparing for her first date, which was to be the most exciting thing. Teased at school because of her frustrating inability to even leap over bungalows in a single bound, it had taken forever to convince Super Bobby to think it was his idea to ask her out. As he was ringing the doorbell her father hustled her off in an escape pod. She’d thought it was because he couldn’t stand to see his little girl growing up, and pouted all the way to Earth. When she later learned the truth she was still slightly miffed.

Her dating prospects were no better on her new home planet. Even as her powers matured, her potential dating pool diminished. Only when she set aside her father’s advice to “never put out until there’s a ring on your finger” did she find men willing to take out a woman who could not only beat them at arm wrestling but examine the total package using her xray vision.

Inevitably they would disappoint; if not as lovers, then as fighters. Because if there’s one thing Supergirl liked almost as much as romantic evenings by a fire she had started by rubbing two trees together, it was a good scrap. “My little feisty one,” her mother had called her just before tucking her into the pod and being obliterated. “Your father forgets that I didn’t have a ring when he took my virginity the first three times. I know you’re impatient, but watch your temper. It’s not your most attractive quality.”

Supergirl usually kept her aggression in check by a good workout at the gym when she didn’t have any dates lined up. It was there that she ran into her cousin Superman, bench pressing well below his personal best, Clark Kent eyeglasses cracked from a recent run-in with a parking meter maid he could have stuffed through the coin slot if he had any balls. As a teenager she’d gone out with him a few times on ‘trial dates’ arranged by her father that both had found awkward and, needless to say, romantically unfulfilling by design.

They’d had lunch, caught up on gossip (“Everything back home is still obliterated”), then gone their separate ways – though not before ‘Clark’, as he really did wetly prefer to be called, left her with some advice: “Choose your battles. You can’t fight the whole world.”  Also “Don’t bother, I’m wearing lead underwear.”

Amongst her superpowers, one of the most useful, passed down from her uncle “Hands” (like calling someone who is tall Shorty, thanks to Supergirl after one free-ranging hug too many) was the ability to turn people to stone, and not just with a look surpassing icy. It had gotten her out of many a tight spot, such as when cabbies insisted on being paid. There was an entire gallery at the Metropolis Museum of Modern Art filled with her “Rocky Relationships” installation, the provenance of which she naturally kept from the curator to avoid sticky questions.

It took a blind date with what turned out to be the son of a preacher man to get her to realise the wisdom of Clark’s advice.

 To be continued…

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Year of the snake

2013 years, more if you can count backwards, and where are we as a human race? Still last when it comes to arranging our affairs in ways pleasing to the stars. Even apes plan their days with more care: foraging, grooming, mating seemingly indiscriminately and establishing dominance in accordance with the big picture always at the forefront of their smaller but perfectly formed brains.

Rather than following their example, we often bumble about hoping for the best and managing expectations when it’s clear to those with eyes that see and a limbic system somewhere in that twitching oatmeal that astrology is the only Letts Planner we’ll ever need.

New format: Horoscopes have been arranged alphabetically so you don’t have to lose productivity (a problem in previous years) searching where you fit in the scheme of things.

Aquarius
Fortune favours the bold. Unfortunately that inheritance doesn’t come through. Rearranging your CV from chronological to functional then back again won’t alter your prospects but will bring to light a few typos. Don’t snub networking opportunities in the queue at M&S. Dress for success. Remember to burn the receipts for the arsenic.

Aries
This will be a themed year. Everything of significance that happens in your life will be tangentially connected to everything else. You won’t even have to plumb all six degrees of separation to achieve nagging closure with the hunch that if you don’t send Kate Middleton’s baby a present there will be a certain iciness in the way that she looks at you from the pages of Hello! magazine.

Cancer
A shared horror of grammatical decline may forge superficial alliances but sadly is not the basis for a long-lasting relationship. Apostrophes are fickle; misused semi-colons hardly worth the silent death of respect let alone a broken heart. Explore pluraling with an open mind, spelling anomalies with a forgiving heart: a little naval-gazing isn’t cause for open hostilities. British and American discrepancies will eventually flip around with geomagnetic reversal, so a generous tolerance can smooth out those worry lines.

Capricorn
A tablet computer won’t revolutionize your life. Buy it anyway if it makes you happy.

Gemini
Congratulations are in order. Don’t worry that it wasn’t based on merit, or even particularly fair. The system is rigged, we all know and respect that. Plan your next moves carefully like a chess master. Hold your nerve. It wouldn’t hurt to keep your cards close to your chest. Churchill almost lost the war early on before he learned to stop openly strategising with Friends on Facebook.

Leo
It couldn’t hurt to start working on that bucket list, particularly if it’s a short one. There’s no need to be alarmed, that’s just good advice for anybody. Still. Listen to the man wearing the turquoise socks when he offers advice about visiting Malaysia. It’s difficult to be more specific than that. We all have feelings of impending mortality from time to time: Final Destination wasn’t a documentary. Last minute seat changes skew your karma.

Libra
Go ahead and give the casting agent your phone number. Where would we be without extras? How many people remember the Godfather stroking his cat? It’s the then-unknown Marty Feldman, found wandering the lot and drafted in last minute by Coppola to add the missing edge of menace to the scene, who lives on in our cinematic memory. Your eyes really are your best feature you know.

Pisces
The age-old question of nature or nurture will be settled, so don’t feel too bad about dropping your children from your Christmas card list. (Childless? Don’t adopt either.) Even behaviour taken in context can be actionable. The time for electronic tagging is past. However, if all parties can come to an understanding which respects boundaries and basic dignity, it can also bring you closer together.

Sagittarius
Furniture. Oak or pine? What’s your budget? Soft furnishings may suffer if you splurge. House pride goeth before a fall. Spring is the time for tarting up. Hand in hand to Homebase, you idling in the tool aisle wondering if you have enough of the right kind of drill bits, your other scrutinising the tiling: all is right in the world. This is where the weekends go.

Scorpio
There’s no need to diet or buy smaller mirrors, you can be loved and cherished just as you are. A sluggish metabolism does not need to be mentioned in your profile unless it’s pertinent. Nonmatching accessories show character. Red, yellow, blue – really, all the primary colours, aka “colours in their own right,” work. After all, you’re a person in your own right. Purple’s fine too, unless you’re a man, in which case ermine is also indicated.

Taurus
Which utilities are most important? Pay those first. Candle light is romantic, hot wax also works for some, but don’t move it too close to the bamboo blinds, I know this from experience. Choose providers, if you still have any, by flipping a coin; a monopoly doesn’t have to be evil if it gets the job done and keeps us from getting distracted by meaningless “competition.” So sayeth the savvy soothsayer.

Virgo
Things are looking up. Caressing the monolith may offer additional evolutionary advantages. Put down the bone unless you want an ankle bracelet that beeps.

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Beer of the root

“And her hair spilled out like root beer.”
–Tom Waits

I like root beer. It’s possible this

blueskyrootbeer

is the best root beer in the world. However, I haven’t tasted all the root beers the world has to offer, so it’s also possible there is something better out there. It’s a known unknown.

This can, which is the perfect can for root beer, was lovingly transported from Texas in the belly of a Boeing 777 last year. Slightly nervous about pressurization, I only brought one over in my checked-in luggage. Of course there were far too many volatile fluid ounces for it to be allowed in my carry-on, even though the thought of such a beverage being used as a cover for terrorist activities is beyond the pale.

I haven’t yet pulled the lovely blue tab. I don’t plan to until just before my next visit. I go to Texas about once a year. For my inlaws.

And the root beer.

UPDATE
Having decided that the best root beer is one that I can actually buy on a regular basis, the crown must pass to A&W, a steady fountain of which I’ve discovered is available at a little shop down in St Leonards, named after the patron saint of prisoners, pregnant women, country dwellers, horses, and now root beer.

loonmoon
The wild east. Wait a minute, that’s not from St. Leonards. You mean there’s more than one source?!?

rootbeertower1
Scale model of the tower of root beer I hope to build one day

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT
Here is an example of fake root beer:

fakerootbeer

Do not under any circumstances accept this sparkling soft drink infused with natural ingredients in lieu of the real thing if the real thing is what you thirst for. It is meant to “transport you back in time to a period when cares were free and times were fun”,

rootbeerlabel

but it will only cause heartache.

BONUS! RECIPE SECTION
In case you want, you know, a root beer float. Admittedly bananas and root beer might not mix. I haven’t tried them together. As ice cream – well, ‘ice cream’ – goes, though, this is great.

Ingredients:
(ripe!) bananas
+ maybe a dash of milk or juice to help them mix better

Directions:
Peel
Freeze
Purée
preferably in that order

banana600

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Comment is Free

THE LEEDS LEEK

COMMENT IS FREE
But facts are sacret
Denying but not forever rumours of a possible merger with The Leeds Leek, The Guardian has issued a statement: “If the Leek is spiritually in Leeds, and The Guardian in Manchester, perhaps we could meet somewhere in the middle, like Huddersfield. Eventually.”


Polish plumbers have not yet made inroads into this West Yorkshire market town

There were reactions to the rumour, some more mixed than others. Guardian soulmates were as an aggregate noncommittal, whilst the readers’ editor was reporting strong currents of opinion that the news department would suffer but in a good way.


Students were divided on the issue of whilst

It is thought that a representative of the loss leading national newspaper division within the Guardian Media Group observed the publisher of The Leeds Leek in a first class carriage on the train one day and assumed Leek coffers to be flush with cash and therefore ideal partners. It later transpired the Leek was just passing through.


Nightlife in Huddersfield is scheduled during daylight hours for health and safety reasons

This has been a special educational reprint of an earlier Leek story.

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Rerun

Charles & Camilla’s card apparently got lost in the post, but we have received our traditional Christmas Message from Capita:


click if the music doesn’t automatically load in your head

I couldn’t find a picture of J Hales, so BBC Director-General T Hall will have to do as representative of The Dark Side.

Since I can’t legally watch the queen this afternoon, as law abiding subjects have been doing for generations,

if I need a fix of Liz I’ll either catch her on The Crown, or splice something together in my head.
Lilibet, Leia, and Winnie in happy times
Alas the corgi bounded straight into a sarlacc, Winnie’s “silly game” with the chains was already turning deadly serious, and the young queen was advised to flee by her trusted advisor and Twi’lek Tommy, just out of shot, to avoid a diplomatic incident on Tatooine. Needless to say all quite noncanonical and not a little confusing, but it was a long time ago.…

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Leporidae domesticus

Over the course of the past two years I’ve become somewhat knowledgeable on the subject of the house rabbit.

If there’s one thing you can’t say to them, it’s “No running in the house please.”

Taking a keen interest in a hair straightener. No, you don’t need that for your ears.

The back of that shelf has a plexiglass barrier bolted to it in what turned out to be a vain attempt at denying access to a place where appliances and various chargers are frequently plugged in. A minute or so after this picture was taken, he made the leap. It may not look too difficult, but note that it’s going from one slippery surface to another, at an awkward angle. We now keep these curtains closed if he’s in a scampy mood and we can’t directly supervise him.

Rabbits like to chew. They need to chew. Chewing is their specialist subject. Naturally, we provide objects specifically made to meet this need, such as this wood panel, which he occasionally deigns to nibble.

The bag his litter comes in is also on the approved list.

Then there’s his collection of cardboard tubes.

Furniture is on the unapproved list (as are cords to Venetian blinds),

though the slats holding the mattress are OK, as long as they maintain structural integrity.

Moulding was a big worry before he arrived. To our relief, he’s satisfied himself with just a few nibbles here and there.

And he’s left the coffee table alone!

Likewise the wing chair he’s grooming underneath in the first picture.

Probably his very favourite targets, aside from my wife’s slippers, are drapes.

Those hung unmolested for a dozen years. Oh well.

Who knows what he makes of my CD collection.

“My chosen subject is the music of Shania Twain”

Rabbit, rest.

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A visit to the Tate Modern


Tower of babble


Rotten Tomatoes rates it 90% didactic


Either struck by an epiphany or lost her contact lens


The blur adds a sense of urgency the photographer wished to convey as he hurried through this room


Release the cats


Tl;dr: Nixon was warped, and you can yell at the screen if you want to


Finally, a place to eat my crisps in peace


Looks cozy enough


Please pray no one walks in on me eating my crisps


Whoa there, can’t you read, buddy?
In the interests of maintaining interfaith harmony, let me state for the record that I did not walk into the room with my shoes on. In fact I did not go in at all. Nor did I have crisps, a device used for illustrative purposes only.


Once more into the art


This piece by Susan Rothenberg is called ‘United States’. “The evocative title may refer to the two sides of the composition. The way in which the canvas – and the horse itself – are divided is reminiscent of abstract painting, and emphasises the interrelationship of representation and abstraction in Rothenberg’s work.” I would’ve just called it Horsey #1, assuming it was my first go at the thing. That’s why I’m not hung in the Tate.


Accidentally wandered into the staff exercise room


I don’t even have to read the placard label. This is the cross section of a very big safe, probably holding gold


Funnily enough this is also how Liberty sells their wallpaper


I call this one ‘Guarding the Potato Patch’



If you’re going to be placing rules on my interaction, I’m going to have to rethink this thing

Why Dali always regretted never having met van Gogh

and I’ll leave you with this:

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A day that will live in famy

My wife, who was diagnosed with normal-tension glaucoma several years ago and recently informed that she would in all likelihood have to undergo trabeculectomies (a fancy word for cutting a hole in your eye)

because the drops which usually succeed in controlling pressure weren’t, has just learned that her numbers have improved significantly. She’s a 10!

This will have to be double-checked in the spring, along with regular visual fields tests to ensure blind spots aren’t sneaking in

but it’s still news worth buying a round for the house

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