Tuesday, 29 July 2014

The Long Shadow

By happenstance (and thanks to my Facebook friend Susan R) the following popped up on my Facebook page today.
Well I never, I had just finished reading "The Long Shadow" which I had borrowed from the Sarasota County Public Library (probably a day or two after it had been placed on the "New Books" section at the Fruitville branch library.
It's a fascinating (if very occasionally tedious) read  which made me think anew about all I had been taught about the Great War, and the consequences of that bitter blood-letting.
For instance:
The experience of the ANZAC troops at Gallipoli (and other places) moved  Australia to see itself as a proud co-equal nation in the Empire/Commonwealth, and not as a junior partner or ex-colony.
The incredible number of volunteers from the British Isles (2.5 million from England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales) who were convinced of the righteousness of the cause, led to a new sense of British-ness  (gallant Britain coming to the aid of plucky Belgium).
That sense of British-ness broke down in Ireland when the Catholic majority came to believe that the UK parliament would renege on it pre-war promise of Home Rule.  That belief contributed to the momentum for the Easter Rising of 1916,  which in its turn led northern Irish Protestants asserting that they had been "stabbed in the back" in 1916.
But the concept of being British held fast in England, Scotland and Wales until recent devolutions of power in Wales and Scotland.
The British Commonwealth/Empire reached its zenith after the Great War. 
The British economy recovered much more quickly than that of the Germans (we all  know that), the French and the Americans (probably because the Brits were the first to come off the Gold Standard"
When we learned "history" in High School it was presented as an account of "facts".  Thus, with regard to the Great War we were taught about dates and numbers e.g. The Great War started in 1914 and ended in 1918.
But "facts" are disputable, (the Serbs assert that the war truly started in 1912), and they never tell the whole tale.
What David Reynolds points out is that "history" is never pure and unassailable, it is never a mere recitation of facts.   The histories we learn are always subject to the biases of the historians.
For instance (just a few examples):
 (1)  Haig and Kitchener - heroes or villains?
(2) Did Britain, France and the USA "win" the Great War, or was the end of the War a military tie:  with the Germans calling for Armistice because of the revolution in Berlin which led to the abdication of the Kaiser, and because of the success of the British Naval blockade of German Ports.
(3) Was American entry into the War simply on account of the sinking of the Lusitania, or did it have more to so with Woodrow Wilson's liberal optimism?
Well you pays your money and you makes your choice.
My choice is to believe that what we call "history" is entirely suspect.  When someone says "history teaches us that......."  I have to say "but whose history?".
I read "The Long Shadow" with pleasure.  I commend the book to you.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Apposite comment via Mario Livio

Mario Livio * writes: "I like this conversation from Lewis Carroll's "Through the Looking Glass". It seems to me to be applicable to many situations today":
'There's glory for you!'
'I don't know what you mean by "glory",' Alice said.
'I meant, "there's a nice knock-down argument for you!" '
 'But "glory" doesn't mean "a nice knock-down argument",' Alice objected.
 'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said in a rather scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less.'

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Uh Oh

There are a few things which need fixing in my home,  simple enough stuff for which I have neither the skill or tools.

I have been looking for an old fashioned "odd job man" (woman), 'cause none of these jobs call for a skilled craftsman (woman).

Chief among these needs is the leaking tank in my bathroom.

There is a shut off valve right next to the toilet, but it is "stuck" -  even the use of a wrench would not budge it.

So, for now I've shut off all the water supply using an outside valve.  This is all well and good for now since I can turn the water supply on when I need to shower or do laundry  - making sure of course that I have a dish-pan under the toilet tank.

I mentioned my needs to parishioners C and M when I shared communion with them at their home this  morning.

They put me on to  a local business called  "Meyers Makes House Calls", run by one David Meyersburg.

His business card has the sub-titles
Master Tinkerer
Dependable and Knowledgeable
Anything in or around the house repaired.
No job too trivial
I called Mr. Meyersburg today. Boo-hoo  he is fully booked for two weeks. 
But since his home is about a mile from mine he will stop by tomorrow and (if he can) turn off the valve next to the toilet.  (If that works I'll be able to restore full water service to my home (and use the spare bathroom).
When he gets here tomorrow we'll talk about setting a date for the tasks on my list:
1) Repairing or replacing the water tank.  (Of utmost importance).
2) Shaving the cats
3) Ironing my shoe-laces
4) Spinning my clothes dryer lint so that I can make some hoodies for the cats.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Surplus of carrots

Yesterday my pal Bob gave me a big bag of those "baby cut" carrots,

 ( see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baby_carrot )

Bob always had a good store of them in  his home because his sweet Westie "Maggie"  (full name Margaret Rose -  after Q.E. II's sister) would eat one or two each evening as a bedtime snack. 

Sadly to  say Maggie is with us no more after her health rapidly declined,  as a result of kidney failure.

Today (Friday) I grated some of them and made a cold carrot salad with raisins, finely chopped pineapple and a bit of mayonnaise.  Went down well with some salmon which I had poached earlier in the day and then ate cold, and with some good tomatoes which I lavished with fresh basil.

I dressed the salmon with a simple sauce which I made with mayonnaise and sweet pickle relish.

Tomorrow (Saturday) I shall make some ginger carrot soup. May the food gods grant me patience as I peel and grate the ginger.

(I hate wasting food )