Celebrate BBC – Bye Bye Corbyn

Oh joy. Celebrate like it’s 1979. The bad man has gone away. The good man – and I’ll come back to that – has triumphed.  But first, some random thoughts.

  • This campaign stiffened my dislike of the Guardian. Any institution that can admit the Labour Party had a serious problem with antisemitism but still recommend people vote for it is a deeply flawed body.
  • Chief Rabbi Mirvis got his intervention spot on. The last thing he would have wanted to do was become involved in national politics, but he believed it was wrong to stay silent. His noble behavior in the face of the storm of criticism directed his way after his statement simply cemented the belief (sic) of many, that he’s a decent man doing a difficult job very well. Long may he continue.
  • One response from the losing side has been slinging mud at the Tories suggesting that they have a problem with Islamophobia. Expect more of the same. I also expect Boris to put his own house in order, as required, and to deal swiftly with any such instances that arise.
  • I registered for a postal vote. I’m still waiting for the ballot to arrive. (Thank you Israel Post!) It would have taken another 6,000 votes like mine to see off the SNP who, sadly, took Renfrewshire East.
  • The election is a bad result for Scotland. It’s created a false expectation of independence that the SNP cannot deliver. I presume Johnson will stand resolute. So far as the rationale is concerned, there is no longer an economic argument for Scottish independence. And there is no prospect of Europe wanting Scotland as a member without the rest of the UK. Despite those inescapable facts, it seems likely that there will be a huge waste of time and energy and money – public money – wasted on campaigning for an independence referendum.
  • The markets do not like uncertainty. Well, this election result should sort that out. Whether you like it or not, Brexit is going to get done.
  • Note the following quotes from Dominic Cummings which should make uncomfortable reading for many:

“After the shock of the referendum MPs and journalists should have taken a deep breath and had a lot of self-reflection of why they misunderstood what was going on in the country but instead a lot of people just doubled down on their own ideas and fucked it up even more. That’s why something like this happens against expectations.

All these better than average educated remainer campaigner types who have waved around for eight weeks, for the last four months and didn’t understand what was going on and didn’t understand they were driving everyone mad.

Hopefully now they’ll learn because it’s not good for the country, the whole dynamic to carry on. MPs need to reflect, the media needs to reflect and they need to realise that the conversations they have in London are a million miles away from reality.

Finally, Boris. I have never met him, am never likely to, and have no burning desire to make him out to be a hero. He can be very clever. He can be nasty. He can be entertaining. He can be cruel. He can be charismatic. He can be sly. In short, he is not perfect. But none of us are. And many of those who sling stones are too quick to criticize (and name call) instead of arguing principles, ideas, and so forth. They shoot first and think later. He is also not a dictator. He has a party to keep him on track and, more importantly, an electorate who will not forgive him if he fails to deliver on his promise to be the Prime Minister for everyone. (For the many and not the few?) In this case, I am an optimist. I am happy to leave the PM alone and let him get on with the job.

Bye bye Corbyn, and let’s go Boris!

Death Valley

This is a bumper package in the GBACW series now on my table. It features the battles in the Shenandoah Valley of 1862 and 1864. So far, I have played 1st Kernstown and 1st Winchester. Smallish scenarios that are good fun.  I’ll never make it all the way through the battles provided, but I am impressed at the quality and quantity of the content in the box.

One sad aspect is that the designer of the core system, Richard Berg, recently passed away. It’s a tribute to the strength of the design and the interest in the topic that GMT can see a continuing market for developments of the system and more battles. And kudos to Greg Laubach, the credited designer here, who seems to have done a terrific job of making a top notch product.

 

Fiction – November 2019

This was the month I went back to the Spenser series with a vengeance.

First of a projected trilogy, this fantasy novel was slow to take off, but eventually got its act together. It may have suffered from needing to set so many base lines for future plots as it failed to grab me the way Abercrombie’s other work has. Still well worth reading, and I’ll be looking out for the next one.

Number 16 in the series. Our man – or ‘educated thug’ – Spenser is tasked with looking into allegations of corruption in a college basketball team. Is the star player being paid off? Inevitably Spenser comes up against those who do not want him to find out what is going on. Through it all, Spenser delivers his trademark smart alec dialog with no concession to political correctness. Our hero gets to show off just how good he is in this better quality encounter.

If this type of stuff is of interest, don’t start midway. A chunk of the value in reading the books is seeing how the character and his accomplices and foes develop. Start here.

Continue reading

Joker

I finally got to see Joker last weekend. I thought it was a terrific movie. But, it’s dark, and nasty, reflecting as it does the writer’s view of society, and not pleasant viewing. This is no feel good movie – but it is a ‘feel’ movie.

In a nutshell, Arthur Fleck is an unbalanced individual, trying to make it as a stand up comedian, holding down a job as an entertainment clown, and looking after his sick mother. The pair live in impoverished circumstances and are almost being metaphorically crushed alive. The movie charts Arthur’s journey towards his fate in becoming a (super?) villain.

Joaquin Phoenix’s performance is outstanding – by far the best bit of the movie. He brings the character to real life.

The script is OK, but doesn’t deliver anything special, albeit there are a couple of surprises. The cinematography is spot on, with memorable scene after scene. The dialog is also good, with not too much of it unnecessarily intruding into Phoenix’s act.

The biggest surprise – although maybe it shouldn’t have been – was that the trailers gave a false impression about what the movie was going to be like. This is no comic book fantasy. It’s gritty, realistic, and savagely honest in its critique about society and the disparate nature of its wealth. It’s serious, it should make you think, and may well make you feel somewhat uncomfortable.

My one real criticism is that I felt it was a touch too long. This may be my natural impatience, but had it been ten or fifteen minutes shorter, that would have been a tighter, more focused package. But truly that’s a minor quibble. This is a great film. And one of the greatest ever dramatic performances. Joaquin Phoenix, thank you very much. You suffered for your art, and you gave us a masterpiece.

 

The miracle of the light

The everlasting light


It’s about moving into a new home. A newly built home. It’s about not trying to get upset by the bits the builder has not quite got round to. And it’s about not being bothered by the constant river of workmen, coming to deal with the cooker, the washing machine, the dishwasher, the television, the alarm system, the lighting, the electrics, the phone, the internet, the banister, and more. It’s about not being irritated by the return visits of these workmen who forgot a cable, an adapter, a measuring tool, a connector or whatever, on their previous visit. It’s about not going crazy. Welcome to Chanukah 5772 in the Simpson household!

But, there’s more: Continue reading

The Preacher – Camilla Lackberg

Kennedy Karlsson believed that it had all started with his name. There wasn’t really much else to blame it on. … No, it was all about the name. He assumed that she [his mother] wanted to call attention to herself and show that she had been out in the big world, even though she came home with her tail between her legs. He would always be a reminder of that. So she never missed a chance to tell someone that her eldest son was named after John F Kennedy, ‘because during her years in the USA she had admired that man so much.’ He wondered why she couldn’t have simply named him John, in that case.

Setting: The resort town of Fjallbacka, Sweden. Continue reading

Happy Chanukah!

In Israel, you don’t have to be Jewish, and you don’t have to be religious, to know that Chanukah is on its way. For several weeks before the festival, there is an invasion of donuts. In the supermarkets, in the shopping malls, in the coffee shops – everywhere – donuts, donuts, donuts. There is no escape. Such is the depth of the invasion, that shops selling them put extra tables outside their premises, loaded with the enticing, round, calorie bombs. The aisles are alive with the scent of donuts! And every taste is catered for: with chocolate, with custard, with jam, or with chocolate, custard and jam; fried, baked, big holes, small holes, no holes, whatever…

So, when Chanukah comes (tonight’s the first night), some people – especially those trying to watch their weight – can celebrate for a different reason. Happy Chanukah means we are nearly at the end of the donut invasion! Not long now before that nasty, effective temptation is removed.

If you celebrate it, Happy Chanukah. If not, festive greetings. Here’s hoping 2012 is a year of peace, prosperity and health for us all.