I am fully aware that I skipped a week. I was off sowing my non-existent wild thespian oats. After a week of memorizing Shakespeare, Mamet and Rodgers and Hammerstein, I’m now ready for some real fluff! I tried to think of some clever way to start this post with some April Fools’ Day craziness, but I’m way too tired to be clever, so here goes my hazy rundown of the week:
The Lady triumphs:
After spending nearly 20 years under house arrest, Aung San Suu Kyi has, at last, won a seat in the Burmese parliament. Her party, the National League for Democracy has claimed that it may have won 10 other seats as well. What does this all mean? I hope it means that Burma (also called Myanmar) is finally realizing that in order to advance its society, you must allow freedom. Burma sits in a part of the world rich with natural resources, but its reliance on authoritarian military rule for nearly 50 years has made it fall way behind its Asian neighbors in both development and economic prosperity. Is this Burma’s Nelson Mandela moment? We have to wait and see. The election of The Lady is a moment to relish, but she will have much hard work to do. Getting elected is the first step. Whether or not it will actually give her the power to do anything remains to be seen. But for the time being, who could have imagined that this extraordinarily resilient woman who patiently waited in the confines of her home for two decades would get this far?
A Tale of Pasties and Petrol:
Here in the UK, the Tories (a/k/a the Conservative Party) have had a very, very bad week. The government (led by the Tories with its Liberal Democrat partners) decided to raise the VAT (tax) on hot foods, meaning those all those poor souls who fancy a sausage roll or cheese pasty to or from work will now have to fork over some extra cash to do so. The Chancellor said he couldn’t remember the last time he had a pasty, which may sound a little bewildering and class divisive to some, but I can’t remember the last one I had either. They’re awfully tasty, but a little fattening. I very nearly got a sausage roll the other day because I was starving, but instead bit the side of hand to make myself refrain. I love a good sausage roll with a nice cold pint of cider. Mmmm. But I digress. Anyway, the Prime Minister claims to have had a pasty very recently while he was at Leeds station, but alas for poor Dave, there hasn’t been a pasty shop in Leeds station in nearly five years. D’oh! Then there was the Great Petrol Panic of 2012. Cabinet Minister, Francis Maude, thought it was a good idea to prepare the country for a possible strike by fuel tank drivers by telling people to go out and fill jerrycans full of petrol (that’s “gas” in American) in case supplies run out. I didn’t even know what a jerrycan was until this week. The rush on gas stations was insane. It seemed a plot straight out of a Sacha Baron Cohen film (think mad OPEC dictator trying to bring the West to its knees). The threat of a strike has now subsided, but I think even the truck drivers got scared by the mad run on the gas stations. I mean, eventually, even they would have to get from point A to B. But basically in the space of week, Cameron and his Tories were at once fear mongers and out of touch elitists. So much for eating hot dogs with Obama in Ohio. I think Cameron’s next photo op should be of himself and a fuel tank driver eating cornish pasties and sausage rolls in a roadside diner. Or the government should take up the Guardian‘s clever, but actually quite good April Fools’ Day suggestion: Appoint Shaun Ryder as advisor on class issues, and have the Happy Mondays singer take Cameron to a chippy in Salford. How much worst can things get? Seriously.
Live from the Supreme Court, it’s Obamacare!
Will or won’t the Supreme Court uphold President Obama’s healthcare plan? That is the question. Before the proceedings began, the general consensus was that Obamacare would be upheld, but the aggressive and confrontational questions from the conservative justices have sucked the confidence out of the law’s supporters. The official title of the case is The Department of Health and Human Services v. the State of Florida. Very dull-sounding as most cases tend to, but it’s been extraordinary listening to the oral arguments. The crux of the issue is whether or not it’s constitutional for the US government to mandate that its citizens must have health insurance. The right thinks it’s an intrusion of government to force people to take on something they don’t want, and the left feels that the cost of health insurance will decrease if everyone must have it. Listening to the arguments, Obamacare’s supporters would be understandably nervous, but as many commentators have pointed out, aggressive questioning doesn’t necessarily mean the conservative justices will strike it down. They could just be airing out their thinking process, but who knows? There are 4 liberal justices (Bader Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, Kagan) and 5 conservative justices (Roberts, Kennedy, Thomas, Scalia, and Alito). The decision will most likely be announced in June and the ramifications will be immense. It could sink or swim the Obama administration, or it could be the rallying cry the left needs for the November election: the intrusion of the Supreme Court into the lawmaking function of Congress to make a political statement that benefits the right. Whatever the result, it’s good to see people interested in the process.
Has Madonna finally lost it?
This is a question that will be asked through the ages because we all know Madonna will never die and she will be around in like 2000 years because she’s clearly got some tank somewhere that keeps her going, and her body is so full of chemicals, I don’t think it’s capable of decomposing. This week, deadmau5 unleashed his fury on Madonna because of what she said at a concert in Miami. She came on stage and shouted out to the crowd, “HAS ANYONE SEEN MOLLY??” OK, I fully admit, I would have no idea what she meant and would have probably thought she was referring to the opening act I missed, but apparently “Molly” is a reference to ecstasy and deadmau5 thought this was a a totally inappropriate way to try to connect with the young crowd. I concur. It strikes me as more than a little desperate. It would be like shouting out to an audience in the Ozarks “HAS ANYONE SEEN GEETER??” But that’s just Madonna, and for better or worse, she’ll probably be here long after all of us have bit the dust in a nuclear wipe-out because lord knows what this woman is made of. And frankly, I’m a little scared of it.
The Trouble with Trayvon:
This case has so many twists and turns, I will not comment about it until more facts come out. But it’s hard to deny is that Florida has crazy gun laws, and the police are lazy when it comes to investigating the facts behind the death of a black kid. Seems to be too easy just to say job done, case closed and walk away. However this turns out, I’m glad that people have forced a spotlight on the case even if the only result is the full revelation of what actually happened.
My paranoia of the week:
On Thursday, southern and eastern England will undergo water restrictions (i.e. no use of water hoses). This is due to the lack of rainfall over the last 17 months. We are officially in a drought. This is very strange to me considering most of my nearly decade-long residence in London has been plagued by seasonal and unseasonal downpours. Where’s the water going? So, being in drought mode and also since I have a penchant for apocalyptic thinking, I couldn’t help but be alarmed by this article from Salon: The Impending Water Crisis. Needless to say, I’ve cut my showers to 3 minutes and trying to run my dishwasher and laundry once a week. But still, I can’t get images of drinking from mud puddles out of my head. I bet Madonna has all the water.
As always, here are some other highlights of my week:
What I’m reading: Band of Brigands by Christy Campbell.
What I’m listening to (new): Home Again by Michael Kiwanuka
What I’m listening to (old): So by Peter Gabriel
Most enjoyed TV program: Sex and Sensibility – The Allure of Art Nouveau
Favorite website of the week: kuvva.com – Amazing desktop wallpapers by prominent and cutting edge artists for free download
Finally, since I didn’t win the $640 million Megamillions jackpot, guess I’ll be here next week. Remember, questions and comments are always welcomed.
All best, Haints. Follow me on twitter.