Monday, 24 April 2017

Making choices!

There seem to be two things in particular being said about Emmanuel Macron and his having taken the lead (by a whisker) in the first round of the French presidential elections.

One opinion concentrates on the fact that his party has only existed for a year and that he has never held elected office. Is it possible that a 39 year old who has never been elected into government could become president? Well, a 70 year old who had never held elected office managed to get himself elected president of the USA! Enough said!

And then there are those who take it as read that everyone in France who didn't vote for Marine Le Pen or Emmanuel Macron in the first round will automatically switch their allegiance to Emmanuel Macron in that time-honoured way the French have of keeping the Front National in its place. But this time I am not so sure. Strange things have been happening in politics in the last year or so. Nothing can be taken for granted until the last vote is counted in two weeks' time.

Who knows what deals might be done behind closed doors over the coming two weeks?

Coincidentally we have been watching a French series, "Les Hommes de l'Ombre", the title translated to "Spin" in English, all about the French political scene and the spin-doctoring that goes on, the manipulation of image and the wheeling and dealing that can undo all the careful spinning. And so, as regards who will be the next President of France,we shall just have to wait and see.

Decsribed by journalist John Crace as "zen-like", Jeremy Corbyn appears to refuse to be spun, trying hard during a TV interview to evade questions about whether he would actually press the button to fire a nuclear weapon or be prepared to send a drone to bomb a specific place where hypothetically the leader of ISIS was known to be hiding. His non-committal answers had the Labour Party in a spin explaining exactly what the party's position is on such matters and, of course, had other parties declaring that he would be chaotic as prime minister.

Here's a link to an article about the lack of idealism in the modern political world. Among other things it tells us that "Theresa May is an important example – she appears to blow with each political wind, with political expediency as her main signpost." I have no more to say about her!

Moving on to other things, last week Serena Williams told the world that she is expecting a baby. Cue a whole lot of discussion about how amazing it is that she continued to play tennis (and win) while pregnant. Further discussion went on about the advisability of doing all sorts of things while pregnant. Some people are tired and ill while pregnant but for most women pregnancy is not a disease. I would imagine that Serena Williams is pretty fit and probably can continue doing what she usually does. I remember a PE teacher I worked with demonstrating all kinds of very energetic gymnastics exercises while pregnant. And don't forget all the less famous women who carry on cleaning floors, working machines in factories, carrying shopping and frequently carrying a toddler around on their hip for large parts of the day, all while pregnant!

And finally, here is a little something that amused me from an article on inventions that were not really needed:

"The US technology industry has a long history of over-engineering complex answers to problems that others can deal with fairly easily. During the space race, Nasa had to work out how to deal with the fact that ballpoint pens relied on gravity to work by dragging the ink down the tube and on to the page. Fisher, a pen company, developed the space pen, which used pressurised air in a sealed cartridge to force the ink out of the front instead. It could not only work in space, it would write upside down on earth, or even underwater, at temperatures from -35C (-31F) to 120C (248F).

 The Russians used a pencil."

Keep things simple and expect the unexpected!

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