It has been a horrible two weeks! What has been dominating the news?
Leader fixation! So problematic! How many of us vote for Trudeau or against Trudeau? For Biden or against Trump! For Macron or against Marie LePen? Do we even care about policy? That is why I liked this opinion piece in The Monocle Daily last week:
If German citizens voted for people rather than parties, Angela Merkel probably would never have become chancellor. In the 2005 election, which first brought her to office as the leader of the Christian Democrats, she was hardly the most popular candidate. Polls showed that if Germans could have voted directly for a chancellor they would have picked her predecessor, Gerhard Schröder. Even the leader of the Greens at the time – the veteran foreign minister Joschka Fischer – was more popular.
… and Merkel is by far the country’s most trusted politician. Her approval rating last week stood at 66 per cent; three quarters of Germans say that she has been a successful chancellor. What about her successor as CDU leader, Armin Laschet? Let’s just say that the German public hasn’t warmed to him yet – while his politics aren’t very different to Merkel’s, his approval rating has sunk to 24 per cent. If Germans voted for people over parties today, they would vote for Olaf Scholz (pictured, on left, with Merkel), leader of the Social Democrats.
So do personalities….
….matter in German politics? Not necessarily. The Social Democrats are languishing in third place in the polls despite their leader’s popularity, while Laschet’s CDU is in first place. Scholz will be trotted out on the campaign trail this week in an attempt to close that gap – and he has recently had some success in this respect. But policies matter too. It’s arguably why the Greens, despite an unproven leader in Annalena Baerbock, are currently ahead of the SPD. That suggests the benefits of a parliamentary system are twofold: voters are forced to think more about policy and unproven leaders (such as Merkel in 2005) have time to prove that they’re up to the task.
Now for something a little lighter! Just ask Raheem Sterling! Did you watch any of FIFA’s Euro? The commentators spent an inordinate amount of time discussing hairdos. This article introduces Sheldon Edwards, a first generation Jamaican immigrant to the UK as the hairdresser to Team England and other international stars. These include Paul Pogba and Olivier Giroud of France plus Radja Nainggolan of Belgium.
A haircut is a quick way to stand out: footballers sometimes attract as much attention now for their tonsorial statements as for their on-pitch accomplishments. Some Premier League players get a cut every week to make their trim “fresh” for each game. And the person wielding the clippers is often Sheldon Edwards, better known by his trade moniker, HD.
Edwards is a first-generation immigrant from Jamaica who is largely self-taught as a hairdresser. Over the years he has made up with charisma and flair what he lacked in technical training (when he was first asked to dye hair by Radja Nainggolan, an Inter Milan midfielder, he had to look up how to do it on YouTube). And he has surfed the wave of changing masculinity in Britain, helped along by Instagram.
Who does Kim Jong-Un fear most! Turns out it is BTS! Oh! You are not a Koreaboo ( A non-Korean obsessed with K-Pop!) I wonder if he wrote a “beautiful letter” to Trump about the poorly attended Oklahoma Election Rally! K-Pop fans launched a Chongkong, an all-out attack! They scooped up rally tickets and ensured an empty stadium. Hilarious! C’mon – pretty funny even if you are a Trumpster!
Kim Jong-Un reckons it’s a “vicious cancer”. This scourge, said the leader of North Korea in June, is corrupting his people, influencing everything from their hairstyles to the way they speak. It is smuggled into the country on flash drives; those found with it can be sent to a labour camp for 15 years.
What troubled Kim so much? K-pop, South Korea’s most influential cultural export. This blend of flawless dance routines and catchy melodies sung by coiffed, clear-skinned youths in co-ordinating outfits has found an enthusiastic audience across the globe, even managing to penetrate the North’s closely guarded borders.
If the foot ball hairdresser and K-Pop have not lightened the mood, try an Affogato. This is the simplest dessert! Use your favourite vanilla ice cream and a quarter cup of good, strong coffee! Better still – crema gelato with a shot of espresso! All will be right with the world!
Lactose intolerant! Get lactose free ice cream! Worried about sleeping? Use decaf!
Affogato al caffè, or gelato drowned in coffee, is “one of Italy’s most delectable modern dishes,” Anna Del Conte writes in her authoritative book “Gastronomy of Italy.” Though the affogato’sorigins are largely unknown, the fashion of drinking wine with snow or ice took off in 16th-century Italy. We can find evidence of modern gelato, made with milk, a century later. Single-shot espresso didn’t come into the picture until the turn of the 20th century, when the Milanese inventor Luigi Bezzera patented a machine that forced, or expressed, hot steam through ground coffee beans. How the ice cream and coffee coalesced into the affogato remains a mystery.
Indeed it has been a horrible two weeks. Indeed, I have read pages on climate change, floods, wild fires, Haiti, ugly politics, and the futility of the Afghan war! I thought we all deserved something different.
And some inspiration to deal with the events of the past two weeks:
This is the lesson: never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.Winston Churchill
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People living on the street have come to symbolize the global housing crisis but they are only the tip of the iceberg. While the examples of Finland and Houston demonstrate a focussed plan pursued diligently can resolve the housing situation for the chronically homeless, addressing the affordable housing problem is much more complex. Defining Affordability […]
I love to dance. This is not something new for me. I can’t remember when I didn’t like to move to the music. My first memories of watching others dance come from my childhood in Cape Breton where I would watch the adults square dance. Then, there were the step dancers who would often accompany […]
Kings Cross, once a thriving industrial and transport centre in London, was effectively closed off to the public by the end of the 20th century. Then in 1996, the decision was made to move the British terminus for the Channel Tunnel Rail Link from Waterloo to St-Pancras. The landowner saw a re-development opportunity for […]
I have postulated that cities and towns evolve. That towns and villages first grow in areas where the basics to support life were plentiful. Typically, that means good agricultural land and good access to water. Other valuable considerations include safety, and resilience. The bonus – access to trade routes. Walt Disney and the Fully Formed […]
A Visit from Saint Nicholas A Poem by Jonathan Potter – December 2022 ‘Twas the first mask-free Christmas, when all through the stores The vaccinated children were spewing their spores;The shoppers were eagerly starting to riotAs the introverts longed for some quarantine quiet. The public healthcare workers were tracing the pathOf the flu and RSV, […]