Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Being Serious and Blogging Politics

Now that I'm back in the UK, I'm trying to learn all there is to know about British politics. Well, kind of. A vacuum of 27 years really doesn't help things here. Watching anything that covers more than Theresa, Boris, Nicola and Jacob has me as much at sea as Hello magazine, where I only know people over 70. 

One thing I am noticing though, is the inexplicable popularity of Jacob Rees-Mogg. I'm hearing that he's the bookies' favourite to win the Tory leadership, despite his relative lack of ministerial experience. Now where have I seen this before? 

So I wrote a semi-serious piece at my Huffington Post blog. I try not to get too serious and shouty on here, so here's the link if you want to see what else I can turn my hand to. 

Let me know what you think of my opinion too. 

Sunday, April 29, 2018

It Seems I Can't Let Go Of Trump

In the nine months since I moved from the US to the UK I've noticed a marked improvement in my stress levels. Oh sure, the move was hard work and very stressful; selling our US home and setting up again in the UK was fraught at times, but my shoulders are no longer constantly up around my ears. Why? Because I'm not baraged with Trump mania morning, noon and night.

Being a news junkie, I have the TV on a lot, sometimes just in the background, in case I miss something. (?) In the US, most of the news channels (even the BBC) were very US-focused, which inevitably meant constant updates about the latest piece of Trump idiocy or crassness. You really couldn't get away from it, although were I to tune in to Fox News (when hell froze over) I would have heard more flattering stories and his fact-challenged statements and daily name-calling would have been carefully edited. 

When I repatriated, I resolved to rid myself of my morbid fascination with US politics, and learn more about what was going on in the UK. (Not quite as depressing, I assure you.) I'm already re-registered to vote so I feel obliged to get myself up to date with local and national matters. However, since I'm still also an American citizen, and have property in the US (as well as two adult children), I feel I should still keep on top of the US circus. 

And that's where it all falls apart. Resolving to let go of the daily Trump s**t show (excuse French) is almost impossible if you want to keep yourself apprised of US news. He is everywhere, and just when you think there's a chance of hearing about something really important - like perhaps Puerto Rico still not being back up and running after 2017's Hurricane Maria, or the water in Flint, Michigan still not being drinkable after 4 years - he comes screaming back into centre stage. 

I'm trying, I'm really trying, not to let Trump take up too much of my time and energy. After all, with the Mueller investigation getting closer and closer to the awful truth, it won't be long before Trump's world unravels. I can wait. I think. But then I go on Twitter and get sucked back in and turn all shouty and outraged. There is literally something every day that makes me shake my head in disbelief or want to punch my laptop into the dog bowl. 

What's that they say about breaking up with someone? Actually, I read about the signs to tell whether you're over an ex and thought I'd see where I was. Not that Trump is an ex, you understand. I have standards.  

1. You're apathetic towards them. (Ugh, no.)

2. You don't press your mutual friends for information about them. (Again, no. I keep going on Twitter and reading stuff.)
3. You feel more than lust or infatuation for someone else. (Eeuuwww. Moving on.)
4. You stop avoiding places they might be...or stalking them. (Nope, I'm Twitter stalking.)
5. You can engage with their social media in a normal way. (There is just rage, although I feel it is highly appropriate.)
6. You're happy for their successes. (Well, let me know when the "successes" happen and I'll get back to you.)
7. You stop keeping track of the time since you were with them. (This is my "I can't believe he's been in office for 1 year, 98 days 22 hours", so no, I'm not there.)

Please hurry up Mr. Mueller. 

Monday, April 9, 2018

What They Really Mean on Twitter

When it all kicks off on Twitter, it’s interesting to watch the poor souls who are punching above their weight. Obviously, although tempting, one doesn’t feed the trolls, but it’s interesting to engage with antagonists occasionally, if only to kill time while the kettle boils. Such is the entrenchment on Twitter as a whole, that it’s usually pointless to attempt a civilized discussion with someone holding a different opinion. Every once in while however, hope triumphs over experience and in I wade.

Hoo boy.

I’m not sure if these Tweeters are all working from the same manual, but there are definitely some tired old responses being lobbed about and, b****r me, if they all don’t employ the same game plan too. It usually starts with:

1. Fake News – “I don’t like your facts so I’m closing my eyes, sticking my fingers in my ears and shouting “la la la la la”.

When faced with yet more incontrovertible evidence of said fact, he, she or bot moves on to:

2. Educate yourself – which really means “because I haven’t a clue and can’t possibly add facts or sources to my comments, I’ll just pretend I know more than you. If you’re female and I’m male, I might add a ‘sweetie’ or ‘hun’ to put you in your place”.

Then, when faced with yet another Tweet that makes too much sense or asks a really, really hard question like “Where did you get those stats from?”, they move on to:

3. Insult du jour – Obviously they don’t write “insult du jour” but these insults change on a daily basis. It’s entirely possible that they subscribe to a list somewhere, in the manner of “a word a day”.

Of course there are many other words and phrases that are deployed when these hapless Tweeters are backed into that tight corner of ignorance and denial, and they’re always code for something else:

Hater – “You don’t agree with me so you must hate me and everyone else in the world.” If they’re into Taylor Swift they’ll hashtag “Haters gonna hate” and sometimes add a GIF in there.

No, He’s the Bully – “I can’t defend the bullying done to him so I’ll blame him for drawing attention to it.” This one was particularly popular a few weeks ago when Florida school shooting survivor David Hogg was taunted on Twitter by right wing celeb Laura Ingraham. With one Tweet from Hogg, listing her corporate sponsors, the Twiitersphere lit up with calls for them to drop her, which they duly did. In certain quarters, seventeen year old Hogg was the real bully.

Elitist – “I don’t think I agree with you but anyway, you’re deliberately trying to confuse me with your education and fact-i-ness.”

Virtue-signaling – “I’m actually not really sure what this means but if I join it up with “elitist” it sounds like I’m one of the people.”

I’m occupying a space in your head – “I haven’t a hope of winning this point so I’m just going to pretend I’m really bugging you. I’ll keep coming back too, even though you’ve now ignored me for three days.”

Whining – “You dare to criticize someone/something I like so I’ll try to make you sound like a toddler.” “Whining” was the word Laura Ingraham used on student David Hogg, which backfired on her, big time.

Friend – “I would never be your friend and I’m going to try to patronize you.”

Truth hurts – “I can’t refute your points or back up my own, but in my head you’re stung and silenced by my Tweets. “

Whatever – “I’m so confused I’ll just say this, with an emoji for good measure.”

You should respect X, Y Z – “Respect the same things that I do.”

Totalitarian – What you support is going to limit me doing what I want to do, so do it my way.”

Quote me a couple… – “I can’t be bothered to learn about the topic. Please do my homework for me.”

Don’t you dear correct my spelling – “…even though I went after someone’s lack of education/intellect in my original Tweet. “

ALL CAPS – “It’s 3am, I’ve had far too much coffee and the feds are closing in.”

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