22 November 2020

everyone’s feelings are valid - not

If half of us believe the earth is flat, we do not make peace by settling on it being halfway between round and flat. Those of us who know it’s round will not recruit them through compromise. We all know that you do better bringing people out of delusion by being kind and inviting than by mocking them, but that’s inviting them to come over, which is not the same thing as heading in their direction.

Some of us don’t know how to win. Others can’t believe they ever lost or will lose or should, and their intransigence constitutes a kind of threat. That’s why the victors of the recent election are being told in countless ways to go grovel before the losers. This unilateral surrender is how misogyny and racism are baked into a lot of liberal and centrist as well as right-wing positions, this idea that some people need to be flattered and buffered even when they are harming the people who are supposed to do the flattering and buffering, even when they are the minority, even when they’re breaking the law or lost the election.

 from one of the best essays I have read in recent times, more here: Rebecca Solnit

19 November 2020

15 November 2020

today's messages from our government

I'll just leave this here


Yes, seriously, the world is watching. Some are laughing. Also, the new shade of hair colour??? And we fully support this:

10 November 2020

Hibernation would be an excellent idea.

Our little Meyer lemon tree as of this morning. We have been harvesting for weeks and still no end.

And here, for all the fans of bitter plants belonging to the genus Cichorium, is the buttery heart of catalogna puntarelle di Galatina deep inside its rocket-fennel-liquorice tasting leaves. It's a bit of a task to grow and we are mighty proud of our harvest.

There are the three positive aspects that carry me through these strange times. One, I am an old hand at this, living as a social recluse more or less for the last ten years. Two, for many years, we, that is R and me, have developed the fine art of close (grand-)parenting, despite the vast geographical distance between our dinner tables. And three, my father is a staunch defender of - what he calls - civilised conversation versus wimpish physical expressions of emotions. 

It helps. I am not at a loss, or at least not more than usually, when I think of my once weekly phone call with him, all properly civilised, while listening to a friend's tearful lament because she misses hugging her dad. And later, I mention this over whatsapp to my daughter, who nods her wise nod, while we cheer the grandchild jumping over sofa cushion mountains on the other side of the planet.

It's not ideal, but nothing is. 

In the evenings, I wrap myself in a blanket and listen to the latest science podcast on the pandemic, to the eager voices explaining vaccine studies and virus mutations and protein sequencing and viral loads and it all washes over me like a soothing lullaby. In the early days, way back in spring, I would take notes and read through the scripts and references, trying to squeeze understanding into (out of?) my mediocre scientific brain capacities. Now, I just feel reassured that there are people who will not give up, who love research for the sake of it. And sometimes, I imagine these scientists coming home to their families after a long day, maybe playing with their kids for a while before dinner.  

By now, admittedly, I just want us to make it through in one piece. There is one unconfirmed case in the care home where my father lives. The infection rate here is beginning to decrease ever so slightly now that we have completed our first week of the November semi lockdown, but it's too early and the number of Covid patients on the intensive care ward, two floor above my office, has tripled in as many weeks. Still manageable, but only just about.

"The pandemic is not an inevitable fate. We determine by our behavior whether the situation gets worse or better.

 . . . personal freedom cannot be achieved in isolation from society. In order for the freedom of all to be maintained, it is in turn necessary that people stand up for one another and take responsibility for one another. The better it works, the less intervention and regulation is required.

The pandemic has shown how relevant this principle is. The more I act responsibly as an individual of my own free will, the less reason I give the state to intervene in social life. The more thoughtless and selfish I act, the sooner the state has to restrict my freedom in order to effectively protect the community as well as the well-being of other people."

Christian Drosten


07 November 2020

06 November 2020

no pity

There are several reasons presidents cry. Anyone who has ever had one and been up half the night with it – or all the night with it, night after night – can tell you this. Sometimes presidents cry because they’re tired, sometimes they cry because they need their nappy changed, sometimes they cry because they don’t want you to leave them, sometimes they cry because they have a gnawing pain in their tummy, and sometimes they cry because they’re just being impossible that day and you should probably go to bed and leave them to it but somehow you just can’t. To anyone going through it currently: this phase will pass. Of course, a crying president demands incredible amounts of attention, and while you’re in the thick of it, consumed by this, it may feel like it will never stop, or at least you won’t make it out. 

For parents of small children, and also for anyone who has ever seen a small child behave badly in the supermarket or the street, the thing we are watching on TV now is extremely, totally, instantly recognisable even to the very young. The big orange guy is angry because it is not his turn any more.

 Marina Hyde