The Plastic Hippo

June 3, 2017

Air sick


As the English language continues to gloriously expand and evolve, it has yet to create an adequate word or phrase to capture the true essence of what it means to be a spectator of political campaigning.

The German “schadenfreude” or the related “joie mauvaise” from the French describing an evil joy might explain taking pleasure at the misfortunes of others but does not quite capture the feeling of toe-curling discomfiture watching politicians dig holes armed with only sound bites and spurious facts and figures. Even the Spanish “verguenza ajena” which relates to the sublime if guilty delight of seeing total strangers making fools of themselves during episodes of vicarious embarrassment cannot fully encompass the feeling of wanting to look away even though continuing to look through fingers thrown across disbelieving eyes. The invented “freudenschade”, which cleverly flips the German original to mean expressing sorrow at the success or good fortune of other people, does not cut the linguistic mustard. The advantage of a snap election means that the inevitable gaffs, faux pas, howling examples of hysterical hypocrisy and moments of undiluted unmitigated madness are condensed into a few, brief weeks of something that has no satisfactory descriptor known within the English language. (more…)

May 26, 2017

Which side are you on?

Via India Express and Reuters

I have to admit that until Monday evening, I had never heard of Ariana Grande and even now, more than 72 hours later, I remain completely unfamiliar with her work but recognise that her talent and status make her important as an icon and role model for adolescent girls and various other sections of society we are happy to place in pigeon holes. Sadly, for all her riches, fame and adulation, Ariana Grande will be remembered for giving a concert in Manchester that ended with the murders of children who only wanted to see their idol perform.

Each barbaric atrocity that takes the lives of innocents brings out the very best and the darkest worst of human nature. Again and again the emergency services rush towards horrific catastrophe without a thought of danger for themselves and overcome the human instinct to run away from harm. Instead, they provided rescue, care and comfort to total strangers. (more…)

May 7, 2017

Stockton-on-Tees syndrome

Patty Hearst

After being forcibly abducted, illegally deprived of liberty, brutalised and threatened with violence and death, it is beyond belief that a hostage would regard a hostage-taker with anything other than complete contempt and utter loathing.

However, since the 1970s, the kidnapping of a wealthy heiress and a six day armed siege at the Kreditbanken in Norrmalmstorg Square in the centre of the Swedish capital allowed psychologists to invent a brand new syndrome to describe how hostages bond with their captors as a strategy for survival and what happens when poor little girls begin to get their kicks by holding up banks with a machine gun. Sadly, like most monthly flavours in questionable psychology, this syndrome rapidly became tasteless when it was used to explain away domestic violence and child abuse in a world where blaming the victims for the crimes committed against them is somehow fashionable as well as being profoundly unfathomable.

It is far too simplistic to dismiss local authority and mayoral elections as meaningless or irrelevant or to point to woefully low turnouts. Crowing about victories in Manchester, Liverpool or the West Midlands when the turnouts are between 26 and 29 per cent is, however, not an indication of the imminent coronation of Theresa May. What is astonishing is that of the 21 per cent who voted in Tees Valley, the majority of people in Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Stockton-on-Tees and Redcar formerly known for its steel works before being abandoned by a Conservative government voted for a Conservative metropolitan mayor. In the east end of Glasgow and across the industrial belt of the Scottish central lowlands, Conservative councillors were elected. (more…)

May 4, 2017

Breakfast, dinner and tea

Filed under: Politics,Society,World — theplastichippo @ 2:15 am
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Image via AP AFP

For all their blindingly obvious failings, it is still possible to feel some sympathy for arrogant career politicians forced out onto the streets and into radio and television studios to explain themselves to an unworthy and inferior electorate.

After a hard day out on the campaign stump shaking babies, kissing hands, making up facts and mangling the meaning of the words that were once contained within a fairly definitive English vocabulary, we should all find some compassion in our hearts for the occasional brain freeze, “mis-spoken” great big statistical whopper, alleged malicious misinterpretation, alleged deliberate distortion and alleged colossal lie taken out of context. Our leaders and potential leaders need to be forgiven for confusing a full English British Exit from the European Union with a continental British Exit from the European Union. With all the boiled eggs in one basket, it is difficult to define what is soft and what is hard. (more…)

April 26, 2017

Sixth Republic

Filed under: History,Politics,Sport,World — theplastichippo @ 1:17 am
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Macron et Le Pen via Radio Times

At the end of the Second World War, the Fourth French Republic was established and governed with an unstable mix of Gaullist and Communist elected representatives until 1958 when the colonial civil war in Algeria, the debacle in Indochina and revolts in French West Africa brought about the collapse of government, the establishing of the Fifth Republic and the return of General De Gaulle as the President of France.

The Fourth Republic founded the European Steel and Coal Community, signed the Treaty of Paris in 1951 and then signed the Treaty of Rome in 1957 establishing the European Economic Community. A year later, regardless of bringing about astonishing economic growth, an increase in industrial output and massive improvements in social security, education, health and pension rights, the Fourth Republic fell in the face of an army munity and imminent military coup. (more…)

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