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Showing posts from March, 2016

One Man's Trash

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I am always trying to get rid of things. I probably go through my closets once every month or two months and throw things away. When I moved into the new home and moved my old stuff out of storage last May, I tried to ge through each box as I unpacked it and to get rid of what I could then. I probably gave away a half a dozen bags full of stuff then. I definitely tried on all my clothes and threw away anything with holes, that was too small/big or that was completely not even close to my style anymore (huge Rage Against the Machine t-shirt....okay, actually I kept that to sleep in but I did give away the Nirvana shirt).

However, I somehow still have a ton of stuff and much of it is things that I have not worn for months or years, is expired or that was given to me by someone and just isn't something I would use (or that I need). So I decided to join Lisa in the February Purge Project. Her goal was to get rid of as many things each day as the number of the day that it was. For examp…

The blind fury of the Euro-sceptic Tories

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Iain Duncan Smith was not one of those ministers we heard serial encomiums about when he was actually in office.  A former backbench rebel against John Major, he was thrust unprepared into the leadership of the Tory party, from which role he was ignominiously ousted by his fellow MPs a couple of years later.  He is now, of course, the best Work and Pensions Secretary we've ever had, a reformer of remarkable quality who has sacrificed his career in order to warn the Tory party of the dangers it faces under its current evil, election winning leader.

Mr. Duncan Smith's past and present are useful fables on the wider problem of the Conservative party as a whole.  He was elected as a leader in what became a two-way contest against Kenneth Clarke.  Clarke was by  far the most experienced of the two, as well as having a popularity in the world outside the Tory party.  He may have been a consummate politician,  but he also had character and an appeal as a "r…

A land where they punch people at political rallies

Look I don't want to go too far with this analogy.  It's flawed and there really are many variables, but you know, as someone who teaches the morphing of Weimar Germany into the Third Reich, the whole violence at political rallies thing obviously raises a few disconsonant tremors.

The Trump rally in Chicago had to be cancelled because protestors violently disrupted it.  Not Trump's fault you might say.  And you'd be wrong.  A couple of days earlier, at another Trump rally in North Carolina, one of his supporters socked a protestor firmly in the face.  And wasn't it Trump who calmly noted that "I'd like to punch them in the face, I really would" when referring to protestors who dared disrupt his meetings?

It's no great surprise that if you deal in the politics of populist hate and demonise whole sections of the population, then you might get throw-back in your political meetings.  Hate isn't easily contained. And what starts in a campaign can eas…

EU Remainers need to take Tony Blair's advice

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He’s the subject of a new, savagely attacking book by TomBower, but sometimes it is worth remembering Tony Blair’s strong points.  The most obvious of these is that he was one of the twentieth century’s most successful electoral politicians, the Labour Party’s most successful ever leader, and an undoubted driver of social liberalisation.
It is his election winning expertise that is most pertinent when we consider his recent intervention about the EU referendum debate.  In an interview with Nick Robinson on Friday’s “Today” programme, Blair urged the pro-EU (or “Remain”) campaign to adopt a far more positive and enthusiastic stand.  Implicitly criticising the emphasis on negative results if we leave (what the “Out-ers” have dubbed “Project Fear”), Blair said that he wanted to see “passion” on the side of those campaigning to stay.  Indeed, in his interview he showed once again how well he can articulate his cases, outlining a cogent and clearly heart-felt belief i…

Friday Fun Day

Happy Friday everyone! I am glad this one has rolled around, as I feel as if this week has been a bit of a whirlwind. Here's to a calm Friday and a great weekend to boot!

The high of my week was installing a ceiling fan in my bedroom without electrocuting myself! I pretty much did it by myself with the help of a friend for the "brawn" portion of the task. I could not have held it up and installed it at the same time.

The low of my week was when tub decided to not drain. This has not been fixed yet and taking a shower has become of the ship variety (as short as possible!) as I try to avoid flooding the bathroom.

The past week's workouts consisted of two rainy 12 mile runs in the Marin headlands, one great long run in Point Reyes and a wet and wild and dark street run last night at the last minute (one that I wanted to flake out on). All my runs last week were with someone else, which is a new thing for me, and is one that is keeping me honest!

This week I am readingA Manu…

Re-Defining the western consensus

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Donald Trump's startling success in the current Republican primaries is starting to hit home and spark a tranche of "we could have a president Trump" articles.  None of them make for happy reading and they're not intended to.  Trump is the horror story that most liberal observers of politics - whether that be liberal-right or liberal-left - hoped they wouldn't have to witness.  Could it be that the "pax occidentalis" that has held since the end of the Second World War is about to come apart?

Trump is an easy to recognise trope of the populist nationalist variety.  He shares none of the internationalism of any of his post-war predecessors.  His candidature hearkens back to the days of Warren Harding, but with an added nastiness.  His victory would bring to the White House a man who is perfectly capable of bringing the old international, American protected consensus crashing down.  Anne Applebaum considers this disaster in her Washin…

Looking Back: February

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This month felt shorter than normal! Ha. That was a joke... Really though, February did go by fast, but that is what happens when you are working on the weekdays and are active on the weekends!


Running: I felt like I did a lot of running in February, but I ended up with 84 miles of trail running, 50.5 miles of road running (including Jed Smith) and 4 miles on the treadmill for a total of 138.5 miles. I also had 9 miles of cycling, 20 miles of snowshoeing and 20 miles of skiing. This is not keeping in track with my yearly goals for either running or cycling, so I need to pick up the pace!

Reading: This month I only ended up reading three books, but all of them satisfied a category on the Read Harder Challenge.

The Taming of the Queen by Phillipa Gregory (4 stars)
Euphoria by Lily King (3 stars)
The Lake House by Kate Morton (4 stars)

Travel: In February, I went to Tahoe twice; the first time was with the family, where we went skiing and snowshoeing on the TRT and we watched the sun rise over…