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Bernie’s K-12 Plan

Of course, Bernie’s been touting free college for a while, and I’m all for that.  Knowledge is good, education is good, research is good.  Both as individuals and as a society, the more we know, the better off we will be.
So, I’m pleased that he’s released a detailed K-12 plan.  I’m not sure about all the details, though.  Oh, there are none I specifically disagree with.  Eliminating charter schools is a good thing.  I’m not against private schools, totally, but they should be privately funded.  Having public transportation doesn’t mean banning private cars, and universal health care doesn’t mean there can’t be private hospitals and health insurance.  But, if the public has to pay for private schools, then public schools will inevitably suffer.  Also, a $60,000 a year minimum wage for teachers sounds great, but I’m not sure that’s actually a federal issue.  I also agree with the right of teachers to unionize, and strike.
But, Bernie tends to see everything in terms of economics – which would not be a bad trait in a president, not at all.
The way I see it, the one thing that’s needed is more schools and more teachers, and assistant teachers.  If classroom size could be brought down to a dozen students, teachers would not only be able to control their classrooms, they would be able to get to know their students.  This means both that students get better instruction, and that teachers can spot specific personality problems.  They’d be able to spot those psychopathic serial killers when they’re still children.
Education, in more than one way, is a great investment in the future.

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Distrust of the Polls

There are polls and there are polls.  There was the one about a week or so ago which showed Biden totally kicking ass.  Then somebody pointed out that they’d only asked people over fifty.  At least, in the lower age categories it showed n/a.  I figured even at that, it was shady, because I’m 65 and love Bernie, and I know a lot of other people my age do, too.  Then it turned out they’d only called land lines.
So, that was a fairly significant incidence of fraud on the part of the main stream media, and I’m certainly not inclined to believe any polls  since then, at least the ones that show Biden leading.
His crowds are small, sad small, he’s got a long history of bad policy, and nothing to get anybody excited.
On the other hand, I see a lot of internet polls with Bernie crushing the opposition, but these are polls that get passed around Bernie sites, and there are at least a couple of them every day.  Sometimes it backfires, and the Trump trolls will break through and flood the poll, or Andrew Yang’s people, who are all computer geeks and vote 10 times each.  I don’t hate Yang.  I think UBI is an idea worth talking about, but the amount he’s talking about amounts to a bribe, not a change in personal lifestyles or the overall economy.  Besides, I’m pretty sure his campaign has already peaked, so I’m real suspicious of polls that show him in the lead.
Anyway, Bernie marched the other day in a pro-choice march in Birmingham, Alabama.  Did any other candidate do that?

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Down to Modrany

We took a little bike ride today.  Well, about 30 km all told.  Helena and I were totally wacked by the end of it, but Isabel was just fine.
We took the path that starts from our house to the river and then left, south, toward the center.  Mostly just because we haven’t been that way for a while.  We had to dismount the bikes and walk a couple of times, we kept running into large groups of people mingling amongst food stands, sipping wine and eating all sorts of concoctions.  This should have been expected, in Spring, in Prague, on a lovely warm day after a couple weeks of shit.
We stopped for a snack after we got clear of all that, like down around Modrany or nearly, and I thought the ice cream looked delicious so we all had one.  H and I thought it was pretty good, I was disappointed because it wasn’t actually ice cream, it was a frozen fruit swirly, but it was refreshing.
Then we pedaled on a little further to take a ferry across and ride back on the Lesser Side as they call it in Czech.   Here we saw some sheep and then a swan swimming with 6 or 7 little downy gray babies, and we all stopped and some much more competitive type biker nearly hit me and shouted rather angrily, I guess I was dawdling in the middle of the path.  My bad.
Then we got to a point where the path went no further but, voila, there was another ferry crossing but this one not only crossed the river, it dropped us significantly north of where we’d boarded, so that shortened our trip a bit, which we were starting to be quite desirous of.

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The Irony of Tourism

I saw a very funny photo on Facebook today.  There was a big, ugly bit of graffiti on an old stone wall that said “Tourists Go Home.”  And the lady posing by the sign was obviously a tourist.
What makes someone obviously a tourist?  I can’t quite put my finger on it, because often tourists are like psychopathic mass murderers – they like just like everybody else.  And I’m not one to say “I don’t know, but I know one when I see one,” because that would probably be an exaggeration of my observational skills.  I’m just saying it was pretty clear that’s what this picture was about.  So, it was ironic.  And that makes it funny.

I’ve lived in Prague for 20 years, but I’m still a tourist in many ways. I frequently find myself in neighborhoods I’ve never been in before, and I speak English most of the time.  But I’m very happy being a tourist, a stranger in a strange land, so to speak.

Prague draws the people of the world like moths to its flame. The beer, the clubs, the old buildings, the statues, the parks, the bridges. It is a treasure appreciated by the entire human race.
Of course, some Czechs feel their capital city has been co-opted, and they resent tourism.   I’m not terribly sympathetic.  Prague is one of the great tourist cities of the world, and if you live here that’s just a fact of life.  It would be like living in Los Angeles if you hated the film industry and Mexican food.

 

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Speaking to the Crowd

Of course we all live in information bubbles.  To a certain extent this has always been true because it’s human nature to hear what we want to hear, and to listen to the people we associate with the most.  Social media has made it more so, to be certain.
My bubble is the Bernie/Tulsi bubble, but I also make forays into the poetry and literature bubble, the Americans abroad bubble, the music lovers bubble, the fantasy and science fiction bubble (rooting for Arya, here), and others.
But, this blog is about the Bernie bubble.  That big, brilliant, glowing Bernie bubble.  I was just watching a little video, a home made video, of his speech to the overflow crowd before a speech in North Carolina.  This is not a new thing.  As many have pointed out, it’s always the same speech, as far as content, and it’s very standard of him to make a speech to the overflow crowd.  I never get tired of listening to it, amazingly.
It’s also great politics.  It is a constant reminder that, unlike his opponents, he always has an overflow crowd, which means he always fills the designated venue.  Whatever the size.
It gives him the chance to give two speeches instead of one.  Since so much time on the campaign trail is taken up in travel from one location to the next as they criss-cross the country, this is an act of practical economy.
The optics are great.  In this case, his podium was a couple of cinder blocks.  The crowd was standing among the parked cars.  It was a lovely day in North Carolina and the trees were green.
And, every time one of these videos hits social media, it gets shared.  It gets shared by those people in the crowd who are standing in the front row, who want all of their families to see them at a political rally, engaged in politics, being a part of history.  It is a video people will show their grandchildren, but the impact in the present is tremendous.
It’s not just Bernie speaking to the people.  It is the people who are speaking to the people, who are speaking to the people, who are speaking to the people.
And they are saying “We can win this.  We can make the world a better place.  Come.  Join us.  Feel the Bern.”
Sure, I’m living in an information bubble.  But it is a large, growing, glowing, beautiful bubble.  May it encompass the whole world.

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Science, History and Linguistics

As a wannabe writer and long term teacher of English, of course I am interested in language.  I have always been interested in history, since elementary school.  And, of course, science is fascinating.  Watching old episodes of DS9 at the moment.  Of course, that’s science fiction, but fans of science fiction are almost invariably fans of science fact as well.
So, when the science of linguistics creates revelations about the past, I perk right up.  Which brings us to the news that the Vojnich manuscript has been decoded.  Of course, this will be disputed and debated and it may be a while before it’s confirmed or disproved, but the decoder seems to make a credible case.  He claims that it’s a proto-romance language, i.e. the descendant of Latin which was the precursor to French, Spanish, Italian and a few other, less widely spoken languages.
Which is really interesting, since nobody knew such a language existed.  I suppose, on the other hand, that is cause for skepticism.  Still, if the whole thing holds together, if words and phrases repeat and make sense, then the English academic who did this translation has discovered a language which was lost to history, and that’s an amazing thing.
Also, it would blow my pet theory out of the water, which is that some illiterate person, who had seen letters but didn’t understand them, was just scrawling shit in a notebook.
So, I will be following this story with great interest.  Let the truth be known, let the chips fall where they may.

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Biden’s “Gaffes”

They say Joe Biden makes a lot of ‘gaffes.’  Once upon a time, back in the days of innocence, I used to think “Well, old Joe is a garrulous guy, it’s only natural that he should occasionally say the wrong thing, that doesn’t make him a bad guy.”
That was before 2016, before the curtain was drawn back, before the full corruption of the Democratic party became plain for all to see.  That was before Bernie Sanders.  Now, of course,  I see that they are not gaffes, they never were gaffes.  He truly does have some hideous positions, and occasionally he talks about them.  He really did support the Iraq War, and the Patriot Act, and he really did work to get a lot of people incarcerated, and he really is against the legalization of marijuana, and he really did brush  Anita Hill off and get Clarence Thomas confirmed to the Supreme Court, and he really meant it when he said (recently) that he loved taking those sweet, sweet, lobbyist payments, and he really did mean it when he said (this is also recent) that we should find the ‘middle ground’ on climate change.  I don’t know exactly what he meant by that.  Is it that we should only half destroy the planet, or that we should only destroy half of the planet?
I saw a video today with congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez, who made a real good point.  She didn’t specifically say Biden, she just said she didn’t understand those people who said the Green New Deal is ‘just too much.’  I’m paraphrasing now, but this was the gist of her point:  If we were to put solar panels on the roof of every home in America, it would not be too much.  If we were to have windmills stretched out in a line all the way from Oklahoma up to through North Dakota to the Canadian border, it would not be too much.  If we were to recycle every piece of plastic, every shard of glass, every shred of paper and every tin can it would not be too much.  If we were to plant a billion new trees, it would not be too much.  Even a trillion.  Even a hundred trillion.  If we were to have high speed trains running from Seattle to Miami and New York to L.A., it would not be too much.  If we were to plant organic, urban gardens in every poor neighborhood, and on the grounds of every high school in America it would not be too much.  You cannot have air and water that is too clean, food that is too fresh, soil that is too free of contaminants.
So, Joe Biden saying we should find ‘middle ground’ on climate change is not a gaffe.  He totally meant it.  It is just absolutely, completely and totally wrong.

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