Sunday, October 16, 2011

Return of the Sixties

The Sixties are back in Wall Street and everywhere, this time with lap tops. And the classic yell at marchers, especially young ones: "Why don't you get a job?" has lost its bite. Most of the young people protesting are protesting for a job.

And that means we are at last witnessing the gut-level engagement of the young not seen since the demonstrations against the draft during Vietnam. Because the ultimate nightmare of a young person growing up in the West is not being shot at by strangers but, with no job, having to go back and live at home.

Question for the Class:
Re demos, sit ins etc- Why is the statue of Martin Luther King in the Mall, so blindingly white?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Frugalism for Christmas

How To Economize, Clothes:
This actually is an all-year hint: Work all day with something like orchids where you will wear old clothes and at the end of the day be too tired to want to change and go out.
If that doesn't work, there is Goodwill -but now that everyone's poor I think the prices have gone up and so for an extra four dollars you can get a brand new 9.99! from the clearance rail at Ross, Marshalls, etc. And don't forget sometimes Macys, for example, goes crazy breaking the 9.99 barrier and you'll get something brand new for 4.00.
OK, Christmas!
GIFTS: Goodwill and swap meets are perfect for under the Christmas tree surprises. (No-one can say I saw that china elephant in Dollar Tree) which brings us to this WARNING.
When buying vases, mugs, etc from Goodwill check first you can remove the price! Someone with a big black marker spends their day writing "1.00-" "50-" often right on the front and good luck with getting it off. Before purchase see if you can rub off the price with a bit of spit or peel off the sticker. Try not to do it where management can see you. -If apprehended state your position and the problem slowly and clearly and do not suddenly make for the door. It may only be a dollar to you but it's the whole retail price for them.

GIFTS Pt 11. Now go to Dollar Tree and check out their gift wrappings and gift bags. They have lovely stuff, all glitter and shine and only a dollar a go.

FOOD. Trying to economize? Then not just Christmas but year round, it's Cheap and Unhealthy for you.
But here's a tip from the Second World War! An English nutritionist, tasked with finding what could sustain the besieged British population when ships carrying decent food could not reach the plucky little island, tried existing for six months on a local diet providing all nutritional requirements.: You boil up potatoes, cabbage and onions.
Try that on your picky teenagers, especially at Christmas and maybe that will convince them that when you say We can't afford that! you really mean it.

And collect some really comforting quotes: one I love from an English advice column long ago:
Always get your hair done. Cut back on something less important, like the childrens' education.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Help

I've been in the States long enough to get awfully self-conscious about race, the whole black and white thing. So I tiptoed into The Help, having been told by the critics that it was a feel-good movie for white folks.
Actually, it seemed quite tough to me. Of course, almost all the white folks except for our heroine had to be vapid and mean, the black noble and stoic. But, my conservative friends, that's how it was in the good old days. If you weren't quietly noble and stoic while being black, you might well land up dead.
One thing struck me, right at the start. The first question our heroine asks the black maid, presented as the most poignant question, is: How does she feel spending her days looking after another's children, not her own?
Well, right now a multitude of mothers, Honduran, Philippine, Mexican and more, may not be looking after other folks' children, but are scrubbing their floors and cleaning their windows all to make a better life for their own children back home. Their dark-skinned, mostly pint-sized husbands and brothers are sweating away in our yards and fields, rattling along in another language, so handy for us, liberals with a conscience, because it does distance us from their problems.

If, as the comics say, Moslems are the new black, then you could say that these folk, who have been more like an accustomed grey in our lives but now face a growing anti-immigrant world, are definitely getting blacker all the time.