Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Keepin' it 1600

It might be mid October but the sap's rising in Co. Roscommon.
This in-calf heifer got in with the 'boys' by mistake.
The reason this blog avoids the wise blogger's 'troika' of taboo subjects (politics, religion and money) has less to do, in the first case, with the wisdom and more to do with the fact that politics leaves me cold. I am delighted to vote on the day and have enough interest to make sure I am voting 'sensibly'. I then take an interest in the results but once they are in I pretty much put the whole malarkey back in its box till next time.

Whole leg of pork gets its dry-cure
Contrast that, if you like, with Liz's driving passion to eat, drink, sleep, knit (?) and work through every minute of the pre-match analysis, then stay up all night while the results roll in AND, afterwards, to stay well abreast of things and in touch with all the expert moves and howling gaffes of the candidates and politicians in power. This applies equally to UK, Irish, Euro and American elections as well as all the sideshows that come along in the form of referendums (referenda?); Yes Equality, Brexit, 'Repeal the 8th' and the like. When Liz is on her deathbed and some young relative asks, "Any Regrets, Auntie Lizzie?" I suspect that up there will be that when the results of the Blair/Labour Landslide were rolling in on that famous night, she went to bed in the early hours and missed the fall of Portillo.

Incidentally, the pics in this post bear no relation to anything written as, obviously, I do not get a lot of pics of political 'slebs' out here in Roscommon. But, where was I? Ah yes. If UK politics leave me cold and Irish Politics just confuse me (more on that later), the American politics have, up to now, left me frozen in a hypothermic torpor. Then the Trump/Clinton thing happened. Suddenly I am amused, amazed, appalled and wide awake, watching in horror as a country I always assumed would do the steady, sensible thing and occasionally get brave enough to make a Lady (gasp!) or a Black Guy (gasp!) President seems to have gone steaming happily off the rails. I am no expert and I have only recently been paying attention but it seems to me that our Mr Trump has got to be the Republican nominee despite no-one really wanting him there, despite them fearing that he is a loose cannon who might say the wrong things, watching him like rabbits caught in the headlights as he does just that, and now no-one knows how to undo the nomination. We seem to just have to go with this and hope that the election undoes him for us. There is wry comment about "a man like that getting within reach of the US Nuclear Codes"

Nugget enjoying her freedom
My recent interest has been helped by that relatively new thing in US Politics, the subscriber (cable) channel, political comment "pod cast". Liz has latched onto 3 main feeds in this - namely "Keepin' it 1600", "538" and "NPR Politics" (links at the bottom of this post). They have funky, modern, website-y names (the 1600 refers to the fact that the White House's address is 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, there are 538 'college' votes in the state-by-state elections and NPR is National Public Radio) and comprise a small group of well informed, lively, experts (plus, sometimes guest panellists) just discussing the latest events, gaffes, TV debates or electioneering moves as if they were sitting in a pub relaxing and chatting.

Annual Pig Census arrived 2 days late for our two.
These are subscriber channels, so they feel no need to stick to BBC-style political correctness or balance and the language can wander into "fruity" if they are more excited or appalled than normal. Many of those taking part have 'done it for real' previously, for example running Barack Obama's campaign(s). I particularly like the 'Keepin' it 1600' one and, despite my professed dislike of such stuff, find myself asking Liz regularly, "Anything new from the 1600 lads?" If there is, we sit down and listen to it together and I then harass Liz with all manner of 'how does THAT work?' questions and we check out the latest graphs and graphics.

A morning moon.
It will all come out in the wash, I guess, on November 8th. Then I can put it all back in its box. "PussyGate" defeated by "Human Decency"? I have got to thinking though, how good it would be if we could get some of these political pod-casts going in Ireland. I said earlier that Irish politics confuses me. I come from a world where you knew (for a while!) what you were voting for - the Tories were the 'management', Labour was for the working class families and Union types and the Liberals were somewhere in the middle or were the only ones interested in stuff like organic farming, green issues and so on.

In Ireland we have the two big parties (Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael - FF and FG for short) with no obvious policy (or recent record) differences between them. Even local political activists can not give you a clear answer if asked why I should vote FG or FF. A commonly held view is that these 2 became the main parties during the Civil War (in the 20's), with one voting for partition of the country into Northern Ireland and the Irish Free State (as being the best solution they thought they could realistically get), while the other party wanted to hold out for independence for the whole land mass as one entity. This conflict divided communities and villages, pitted brother against brother and father against son and for many it still rankles. They vote FG or FF now because in the 20's blah blah blah. They are still fighting the Civil War through the ballot box.

My frustration at not being able to get answers which matter to me (you know - pensions, Brexit, rural broad band, water supply, support for village life and , yes, even small holders) had me thinking how good it would be to get a few of these podcast discussions up and running, to hear what intelligent, informed, politically savvy people (Nate Silver with his statistics, Adrian Kavanagh - Irish University lecturer "whose main research interests focus on the geography of elections, with particular reference to the Republic of Ireland") are saying is good, bad, sound or unsound politics. Then I'd be able to go to vote having half an idea what I was voting for, rather than the 'attrition' method I use currently. (Not him or her because they support X, nor her because she won't say whether she supports Y or not.... ah well, that just leaves these ones then.... now what is '1st preference'?)

And now, just in case you are still awake, three links generously provided by Liz to those podcasts. Good Hunting.




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