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Sunday, October 2, 2016

Umpire

American Umpire is not about baseball.  It's about the role of the United States as an umpire, intervenor, dispute settler in global politics. Elizabeth Cobbs and James Shelby, in the documentary based on her book, point out that in The Federalist Papers, Hamilton, Madison and Adams used "umpire" to describe the relationship of the Federal government to the governments of the states.  As an umpire enforces the rules of a game, the Federal government would judge whether or not states were out of line in their relationships with each other and with the constitution.  Otherwise, the states were to conduct their own business in their own ways.

In foreign affairs, for 150 years American government followed George Washington's "Great Rule", of neutrality, non-intervention, and volunteer armies called into being only in major crises.

After the atomic bomb was dropped, after the Second World War devastated much of the world, the United Nations could not prevent Soviet Russia from taking over Eastern Europe.  Truman believed it necessary for the United States, the strongest country left, to take some responsibility for the rebuilding of Europe and Japan, and the defense of democracies.

For 70 years, the United States has acted as an umpire who intervenes, sometimes taking sides, sometimes negotiating to bring about peace between combatants.  The book and documentary urge assessment of this role, especially when the U.S. pays the bill.

Cobbs and Shelby ask if we have to carry this load for the next 70 years, spending 4% of our Gross National Product on defense, sending our troops overseas.  They ask if we can let go of trying to control the outcomes of international conflicts. 

"The Boleyn King," by Laura Andersen
Minuette, the main character and narrator, interested me right away with her intelligence, humor and hope. In this alternate history, Anne Boleyn's son William lives to become king. Friends in childhood, Elizabeth and Minuette, William and Dominic, trust each other, which affects politics and history as the story builds. I look forward to the next book in the trilogy.



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Friday, April 15, 2016

BAD ADVICE ON GENDER ROLE

A friend's Facebook thread on love, friendship, romance and cultural expectations provoked a vivid memory:  I told a trainee psychiatrist that I was supporting myself and my abusive boy friend.  Did he tell me to get out of an abusive situation?  No.  The mental health provider told me I was castrating my boyfriend by working.  If I stopped working, the boyfriend would have to "be a man" and get a job.  In those days, the cusp of the 50's and 60's, psychiatrists were credited with enormous authority and arcane knowledge.  I actually quit a job with a career path!  No, the boyfriend did not suddenly become a responsible, reliable "man."  He did not get a job.  He blamed me, threatened and hit me.  I got a part-time job to scrape the rent together, still trying to not castrate this poor victim of female role deviance.  It took me two years to give up on the project and leave.

It was that vital to be in a relationship, any kind of relationship, with a man.

See Amatonormativity Harms Us All, on EverydayFeminism.com

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Courage to Market My Art

Marketing my art calls for confidence that there are folks out there who would enjoy the way I express myself, and would buy watercolor paintings and cards from me. Of those who have seen my work, some have purchased it. I'm seeking practical ways to make my images available to more people. Friends have urged me to use Etsy. I'm looking into that. Choosing the focus of my possible shop page, then thinking up a name for it that interests buyers, even deciding on a username, will influence the initial attractiveness of such a shop. Daymond John, an investor familiar from The Shark Tank, gave some advice on a recent talk show where he was plugging his book, The Power of Broke. When starting a business: START SMALL. Take affordable steps. HAVE A MENTOR. Learn from local business owners. LEARN FROM WHAT DOESN'T WORK. The business may change from your ideas now. BE OPEN.