GOP Debate 11 #gopdebate

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I’ve been following the US primary elections avidly as I do every cycle. I would have fifty debates, if I could; I just can’t get enough of it! Although I never really blog about it (I don’t get paid for writing this, y’know; plus, regularly writing about the lunacy of US politics would consume my life and my sanity if I let it!). I have to say, I always find the Republican debates far more entertaining than the Democratic ones; the Republicans do batshit crazy like no one else. But to their credit, they also debate real ideology, instead of the bland New Labour-like stylings of the Democrats.

This election cycle, the debates have been particularly interesting. Whether it is Bernie Sanders who offers a genuinely different approach, albeit not as revolutionary as many make out. Or the trump card Donald Trump-ness of Donald Trump. This has been top dollar entertainment.

Some great moments of recent debates for me have been:

  • Marco Rubio’s robotic repetition of “Barack Obama knows exactly what he’s doing”, which was brutally destroyed by Chris Christie: link.
  • Rubio landing a heavy blow on Trump. “Now he’s repeating himself” “No, no, no. I don’t repeat myself”. “You don’t repeat yourself!? You repeat yourself every day(!)” “Talk about repeating yourself. I watched him repeat himself five times four weeks ago” “I saw you repeat yourself five times five seconds ago… I watch him repeat himself every night. He says five things: everyone’s dumb, he’s gonna make America great again, we’re gonna win, win, win, he’s winning in the polls, and the lines around the states”.
  • Ben Carson dropping out! Never knew an allegedly educated man could be so stupid.
  • Clinton pathetically trying to copy the rhetoric of Sanders in a most see-through fashion. Her naked ambition is sickening.

The banter levels have only got higher as the debates have gone on. The 11th GOP debate had some fantastic moments.

  • Ted Cruz telling Trump, “I know it’s hard not to interrupt, just breathe, breeeathe, breeeeeeathe,  you can do it(!)”
  • Marco Rubio: “When they’re done with the yoga, can I just answer the question?” Cruz: “I really hope we don’t see yoga on this stage”. Rubio: “Well, he’s very flexible, so you never know”.

But quite apart from sharing my joy at this freak show, I wanted to briefly share my thoughts on Trump.

Trump has undoubtedly said a lot of nasty, ignorant, terrible things, things wholly unbecoming of a would-be President. A stand-out moment of idiotic, racist, crassness was the calling for all Muslims to be banned from entering the US ‘until we can figure out what’s going on’. I mean, really? Am I watching a parody, or is this real? Scenes like this would lie on the cutting room floor of The Thick of It for being deemed too unrealistic. I secretly suspect that, just like Orson Welles’ infamous 1938 radio broadcast of War of the Worlds, we will find out that this was all just an eleborate stunt, and that Jeb Bush was actually already selected as the GOP candidate six months ago.

But despite Donald Trump’s nonsensical, woman-hating, over-the-top, racist, moronic, loud-mouthed bile fountain, I have been saying the following for a while now: I bet he will make an alright President.

Huh!? What!?!!

Yeah, seriously. True, everything he says is offensive to liberal-minded, decent people. Wait, scrap that: everything he says is offensive to anyone with a brain, including the most right-wing of the right (hence why there is currently a movement to try to “Dump Trump” in the GOP). But amidst the ape-shit poo-flinging, there are moments of clarity.

He seems to be a pragmatist and genuinely not bound by allegiance to donors or the party elite, able to change his tune at the drop of a hat. But this is different from flip-flopping. For all his yelling, he seems a pragmatist, not a flip-flopper or an ideologue, and he’s no tool of corporate interests, either.

He has repeatedly had a soft line on foreign affairs, from open dialogue to Putin and others to not getting involved in carpet bombing Syria or invading foreign countries. He talks about doing away with Obama care like all the other Republicans, but he has specifically said that he will not let a single poor person die on the street or go without treatment. Other candidates have mocked him, saying he will involve the Federal government to achieve this. He has admitted to changing his mind and positions on various things instead of dishonestly trying to claim he always had the same position. And come on! The guy is a massively successfully businessman — even though he “only” received a “small loan of a million dollars” from his Daddy to get started. You don’t become as successful in business as him without being a flexible, pragmatic, open-minded, but hard-nosed negotiator.

These relatively moderate positions are all cloaked in right wing rhetoric (Build a wall! Winning, winning, winning! Take care of our vets! Ban Muslims!). I think this cloaking is clever stage management to smuggle the less offensive real Trump into office. I foretell a massive change of rhetorical style, if not content, if and when he receives the Republican nomination.

Furthermore, that the Republican establishment hate him and that he is self-financed and cannot be beholden to big money are all the more reason to think he wouldn’t be a bad choice.

And it’s not just me. Analyses of his positions show that he is far from the most extreme man on the Republican stage. And that’s based on his current rhetoric, which as I say, I suspect is phony.

So in short, whilst the toxic rhetoric of Trump would at first glance seem to be a million miles from what is required of a President of the United States, I have the sneakiest suspicion that it is mostly a persona cleverly constructed and worn by the Trump. I think that, of the remaining four GOP and two Democratic candidates, Trump is far from the worst; indeed, he might be one of the best.

© 2016 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from http://www.teenvogue.com/story/11th-gop-debate-trump-kelly

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English Language Flag

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Today, the 23rd of April, is St. George’s Day — the patron saint of England. It is also William Shakespeare’s birthday, if you can believe such a co-incidence. And to add incredulity to unbelieveableness*, it is also UN Official English Language Day (chosen because it is the Bard’s birthday).

I’m English, and I’m an English teacher. I’m also a bit of a patriot, so it kind of irks when the US flag is used to represent the English language, such as on Duolingo. Although I do understand and accept the reasoning behind this choice (way more Americans than Britons).

Instead of either national flag, some people and organisations combine the British and American flags and use the resulting crossbreed to stand for the English language. This version’s pretty nifty:

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And BioWare, my favourite computer game company, have used the Canadian flag!

All of these options work really well. But I wondered to myself, What if there was a dedicated English language flag? What would it look like?

This is my answer to that age-old and most vexing of all questions:

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Behold! The English Language Flag!

I think it’s confirmed: I am a recidivistic vexillophile! See my other forays into the points realms of made up flags here and here and here!

What makes a good flag design? It should be well-balanced, distinctive, obey vexilololo flaggy rules, and somehow represent what it is supposed to be the flag of. And it should stand out!

WARNING: Boring, Long-winded Explanation Here Follows; Feel Free to Zone Out

I think mine hits the nails on the heads. But what does my flag design represent?

The central pink stripe and the white stripes directly above and below it copy the horizontal part of St. George’s cross in their proportion. And pink itself was the colour of the British Empire. Whatever you think of the British Empire, it is clear that English would not have its current global reach were it not for the Empire.

The blue section at the top directly echoes the blue background of both the US flag (albeit, only in the top-left) and the British flag. The United States, and its cultural, social, economic, political, and military clout, has continued what the British Empire began — the spread and further global entrenchment of English.

Now the thin lines in the bottom. Their proportion, and the alternation of white and non-white, are deliberately meant to echo the US flag. The colours are meant to stand for the various nations which use English: orange, white and green for India, red for both the US and UK amongst other nations.

I make no apologies for recognising British and then American domination; the history of these two nations is utterly impossible to divorce from the story of the English language itself.

What do you think of my design? Do you think I spend too much time worrying about flags, too little about getting a real job?

 

*that was supposed to allude obliquely to the expression “to add insult to injury”, but I fear a little too obliquely, dear reader.

© 2015 Bryan A. J. Parry

A Rhapsodic Post: Pi Day, Dates, and US vs UK English

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When I was scrolling through the http://www.duolingo.com message boards earlier today, I saw a post with the curious title “Happy Pi Day!”. I thought, ‘that’s odd’, so I clicked on the thread. The poster didn’t bother explaining what “Pi Day” was, and nobody else had posted, so I thought nothing else of it and clicked off.

But just now I’ve seen another reference to “Pi Day”. What the hell is this thing?, I thought. Being a trendy Londoner, I don’t like to feel I’m not “in on it”, whatever “it” is. Thankfully, this time the phenomenon was explained. “Pi Day” is the day when the date spells out the first few figures of pi (π):

3/14/15 (that is, 3.1415…)

Before I go on, Pi (π), if you thought it had something to do with tigers or boats, is the number which expresses the ratio between the circumference of a circle and its diameter (that is, the distance from edge to edge across the centre). So the circumference of a circle is 3.14159… times the distance across a circle.

Back to the topic at hand. Frankly, none of this “Pi Day” malarkey makes any sense whatsoever here in the UK. Here, the days and months take the reverse order: the fourteenth day of the third month is expressed “14/03” not “03/14” as in America. Therefore, there never can be a “Pi Day” in the UK.

So, like the “World Series”, everyone in the world can celebrate “International Pi Day” – so long as you only count America. Those Americans, eh: what are they like, with their misnomers, sports that no one else plays, and lack of passports, et cetera? Incidentally, the most annoying thing about American insularity is British newspapers who humour yanks by pretending that there even is such a thing as Pi Day!

Dating systems in the world: look who's on their own, being difficult to the sake of it, yet again...

Dating systems in the world: look who’s on their own, being difficult for the sake of it, yet again…

But really, like all differences between the UK and the US, there is a little rivalry, sure, but it’s mostly in jest and good natured. We shake our heads for their prudish use of “bathroom” when they want to ask where they can have a shit (it’s a called a “toilet”! You’re not off to have a bath, are you!? It won’t even have a bath in it in a public place!), and they shake their heads at our use of “u” in “colour”, “favour”, and “labour” despite none of these words having a “u” in the original form we borrwed them from French.

But who is right, who is wrong? Which system is better: 3/14/15 or 14/3/15?

I’ve always found the British system more logical for the very simple system that days come before months which themselves come before years. That is, day/month/year is logical inasmuch as we are going from smallet to largest. Furthermore, most of the world uses the same system as the UK.

Ergo, ipso facto (using Latin makes me both clever and right), the UK system — 14/03/15 — is clearly superior, and “Pi Day” is a sham based on an error.

On the other hand…

There is a third option, however, and that is to put the years first! My documents and files on my PC are actually organised in this way. I used to organise my files the British way, e.g., “14.03.2015_ApplicationForm”. But I very quickly, many years ago, gave up on the British system. Why? It’s simply that all 14s end up together in the UK system, when what we really want is all the years to be grouped together, followed by months, followed by days of that month. This system goes from largest unit to smallest, the opposite of the British system. It’s the most logical of all.

Which means that months really should come before days… But Pi Day is still a sham as it can never really occur… except for the 9th of May in the year 3141AD: 3141/5/9. How I long to see that historic Pi Day, the true Pi Day. It’ll be a long wait, but surely worth it.

featured image from http://logcabincooking.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/pi-day-61.jpg

map of the world’s date systems from http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Date_format_by_country

© 2015 Bryan A. J. Parry

Subtitle Failure

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I enjoy the stationary bikes in the gym. They’ve got a little telly built in, and I normally watch subtitled BBC news for half an hour or so whilst pretending to pedal hard. I don’t know the science of how the subtitles work: I have no idea if it’s automatic, or there’s a little man frantically typing, or what, but there are some epic fails. Here’s some that’s just happened. You shouldn’t laugh, really, as some of the topics are so serious, but the macabreness of it is what makes it funny in a way (Oh non-existant God, forgive me!)

We were told how a mother is coping with her “thick little boy” who is sick in hospital with “rain cancer”…

On a beheading of a journalist by a grisly terrrorist group, we were told that the scene was “offal — — offal — — terrible“.

“The clear message that President Obama Dave Rahm Moscow was … Dystonia is a member of NATO…” So back off our dear friend Dystonia, Mr. Putin! (or our Prez, Mr. Rahm, will get you!)…

A company was referred to “as the biggest employer in the area with around 1000 Mormons in the pipeline — — more in the pipeline”

And that was just the  really stupid ones in the last half hour! P.S. Google “bbc news subtitle fail” for t3h lolz. Also see here!

 

featured image from http://resources0.news.com.au/images/2014/02/03/1226816/430688-813609d4-8c58-11e3-836d-02ea2adb9f0a.jpg

© 2014 Bryan A. J. Parry