My first impression of Carthage – book by Joyce Carol Oates

My assignment for today is to write my first impressions about the book Carthage, a novel by Joyce Carol Oates. Oates has been writing since the 1960s. She debuted in 1963 and has managed to make quite the list of releases! Carthage was released in 2014, meaning that her career as an author has been quite long!

Carthage’s outline is simple: Last seen in the back of the car of Brett Kincaid, 19-year-old Cressida Mayfield hasn’t returned home. What happened to her, however, is not simple!

Brett, who is an Iraq war veteran, has been heavily drinking since his return and can’t remember the night that Cressida never returned home. He can’t remember what he did with her.

In the first chapter, it is revealed that she has gone missing and that a team of rescuers is trying to find her. Ms. Mayfield’s father is also committed to searching for his daughter, obviously. The first chapter ends with him thinking he’s found her, but what he found was just a partly decomposed deer. So the question is, what has happened to Cressida Mayfield?

I think the book is interesting, and the story makes it so that you sometimes can’t put the book away! Despite some hard-to-understand words, it’s easy to figure out since I have the book on my tablet – that way it’s easy to look up a definition of words. From my impressions and understanding the book is not chronologically built. The first chapter takes place on July 10th, and the second takes place on the 4th. That could just be the first chapters that are built this way, it’ll be interesting to see.

I think there’s something up with Brett Kincaid, the US-veteran, I want to find out what it is!

Hopefully, the rest of the book is like the first part I’ve read; I look forward to reading the rest of it!

Have you read it? What are your thoughts about it?
Please: no spoilers!

On Election Day!

Today is election day and today our task is to write a little about the election that is taking place in the UK today. Emilie and I made a radio show on this topic, you can find it here.

Today the people of the UK is voting for a new Prime Minister. In fact there are in theory 650 mini-elections happening today since each of the 650 parliamentary constituencies vote for one representative each to sit in the House of Commons.  The composition of the House of Commons and who will become the next PM will be decided by these 650 mini-elections. Simply stated: Britain is with this voting for a new parliament and a new government.

Britain could see a new PM in a few short days, Ed Miliband, leader of the Labour party, is the only realistic candidate to take over for David Cameron, the Conservatives leader – despite the large number of parties competing in this election. Polls shows virtual tie between the two candidates and no one will know who’ll win before the votes have been counted. Cameron could renew his PM-ship or the UK could see a new PM.

There is in the UK unusual for no party to get the majority of seats in the House of Commons, but this happened in 2010 and is in fact likely to happen this time around as well. A coalition or a minority government could be formed – the two most likely outcomes of this election.

Britain’s lovely Queen has nothing to do on election. Her role is to appoint the new PM when the votes have been counted, this is constitutionally. It is actually frowned upon for her to vote, as a consequence she does not do so. This goes for both the Queen and her family, they are not to show any stand in any position, political or otherwise.

Lastly, I’ve been tasked to state who I think will win the election and who would become Britain’s next PM. I do in fact think that Cameron would get a second chance and he will renew his PM-ship.

Source: The Independent – Last retrieved May 7th

The movie PRIDE

Before watching, the movie research and write about the following topics on your blog: The Miner strike, Margaret Thatcher and gay rights in the UK during the 1980’s

This week we will be watching the movie PRIDE. The assignment we got before watching it is to write about the following topics: The Miner strike, Margaret Thatcher and gay rights in the UK during the 1980’s.

The Miner Strike:

The UK Miner Strike was an industrial action affecting the British coal industry. The strike, which happened during 1984 and 1985, has been referred to as “the most bitter industrial dispute in British history”.
The strike was caused by job cuts and investments in machines.

Margaret Thatcher

Thatcher was the Prime Minister of the UK from 1979 to 1990. She was a conservative, and she was the leader of the Conservative Party from 75 to 90. Thatcher is the only woman who has hold office in the UK.

She was committed to reducing the power of trade unions.
The biggest confrontation between the unions and the Thatcher government was the miner strike of 84/85. The NCB proposed to put 20 000 out of jobs, due to the unprofitability of the mines in which they worked. The NUM, the union of mineworkers, answered by letting 2/3 of the nations miners strike.

Gay rights in the UK in the 1980s

In 1980, the Criminal Justice Act (Scotland) decriminalized homosexual acts between two men over the age of 21; however gay rights in the UK took a plunge during the 80s.  During this time, Thatcher had office and she has been described to be “at war” with the LGBT community.

In 1983, Britain reported 17 incidents of AIDS, as a consequence gay men are asked not to donate blood. The AIDS epidemic has been called the “gay plague”.

The 80s were a period in which intensified homophobia took place.

 

The assignment we got after watching the movie was to write about the movie.

The movie PRIDE features a group of gays and lesbians who supports the miners who are on strike (the strike mentioned above). The conflict here is that not everyone is happy that the group of people who are helping is gays and lesbians. The majority of the miners will not accept the support and donations from the LGSM – the name of the support group (Lesbians and gays support the miners).

What I find interesting is that this movie is based on a true story – a story that happened about 30 years ago! I cannot wrap my head around that people would not accept gays and lesbians at that time – for me that is unthinkable.

Ok, some people do not like gays or lesbians – but the majority thinks that people should be able to decide themselves. This is the situation we have today in the majority of the western world at least. That was not the case 30 years ago. People became angry at you if you were gay or lesbian – people beat people up due to their sexual orientation.

In the movie, I find it astonishing that the LGSM group continues to support the miners even though the miners are not happy with them helping. After some time, the miners became ok with the idea of the LGSM helping, and during a demonstration the miners returned the favor saying they support lesbians and gays.

The strike that lasted about a year created a big spectacle. The winners of the strike is said to have been the government since the miners decided that they would just go back to work. Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, saw this as a major victory for the Conservatives.

I learned that the world has changed a lot in only 30 years. For me it is unimaginable that people would behave the way the miners did in the start against people with different sexual orientation than themselves.

I learned a little about how the government played a part of the role and what side they were on during the strike. One final thing I learned that I did not know before was the UKs involvement in the mining industry – that is something that I find interesting. There were almost 200 000 miners at the time!

Have you seen the movie? What are your thoughts about it? Did the miners do the right think in the end?

Modern Slavery In The US

United States imprisons more black people than the apartheid regime. Despite only counting for a total of 13% of the US population one in three people arrested for possession of drugs are black. Why is that ratio so different? Marlon Peterson, PR-director at The Frontier Society, says that today’s prison is the natural continuation of the Jim-Crow laws which in turn was a continuation of the slavery. The Jim-Crow laws were laws that enforced racial segregation. Today’s modern slavery comes in the form of the life people get after prison, what they are allowed to and what rights they have.

Jim-Crow laws - racial segregation

Jim-Crow laws – racial segregation

 

It is really difficult to get a normal life after serving time in jail. The majority of black Americans in jail are from lower parts of society and needs help from the State, but are not able to get this after being giving the stamp of a former felon. In jail, you lose your right to vote, and all rights to accept social help. You also get a lot of bills from your time in jail. Without a job or a place to stay, most people have to embrace a new life on the street as homeless. All of this makes it almost impossible to get a normal life after serving time. It’s also really hard to get a job, as you are obligated to inform your employer about your past. This makes it harder to get jobs with good pay, and it’s almost impossible to make a living of your own. Even though you have finished your punishment for what you have done, the society keeps punishing you.

Modern slavery doesn’t come in the same form that slavery did 250 years ago. Today, slavery is something one may experience after ending one’s prison sentence. Many of your rights may be removed and help to get one back on one’s feet is not present.

 

NRA – Necessary with regulation?

Franklin D. Roosevelt launched what has been called the New Deal after the Great Depression in order to get the American economy going again. As a part of the “First New Deal” The National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA), founded on grounds of New Deal the NRA which stands for National Recovery Administration. NRA’s main goal was to eliminate “cut-throat-competition” which is the practice where competitors use predatory pricing (pricing with loss) to eliminate existing competition. Outlined was a plan to create a series of “fair practices” and “codes of fair competition” by bringing together the industry, labors and the government. The series of “fair practices” intended to reduce predatory pricing.

Another goal for the NRA was to help workers to get minimum wages, maximum weekly hours and minimum prices on products at which they could be sold, the products that is.

Despite creating better days for workers in the US, the NRA law was unanimously declared unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court in 1935. Fortunately enough, many of the labor provisions reappeared in the Wagner Act which was passed the same year.

As you can see on the image above the NRA member logo had a blue eagle in the middle of the logo. This symbol became very popular among workers and businesses that supported the NRA put the logo in their shop windows and on their shipments. Despite being voluntary, membership to the NRA was almost necessary – if your business were not a member, you could be boycotted by customers which made membership seem mandatory for many.

Henry Ford was a man who was not happy about the NRA and it’s proposals. He refused to sign any of the codes prepared in the “codes of fair competition”. He wrote in his notebook that: “I do not think that this country is ready to be treated like Russia for a while. There is a lot of the pioneer spirit here yet.” That may be a little harsh, comparing the codes the NRA proposed to Russia. GM, Chrysler and smaller independent businesses eagerly signed the codes, which actually regulated all aspects of their business – the regulation is what Mr. Ford didn’t want – he wanted the freedom. However, after the Great Depression I think it was a good idea with some regulation to get the economy going again.

What do you think? Is a regulation necessary after a big economic crisis? Let me know in the comments below!

And as always, thanks for reading!

Responsibilities of the House of Commons

The House of Commons has a big responsibility towards the British people. They debate different situations that has risen and that requires actions. Another important responsibility of the House of Commons is to legislate and act on bills proposed. Bills are proposed by the government, MPs, organizations or individuals. It is the responsibility of the House of Commons to approve or disapprove new laws. They form the laws together with different parties one of these is the House of Lords.

Another important responsibility of the House of Commons is to be accessible to the public. The public are allowed insight into almost every session in the House of Commons. This is a way to live up to the democracy that England has. The public can visit the gallery where they can watch debates regarding current issues or new laws for free. It is important to note that a ticket may be necessary to be allowed entrance.

The three important responsibilities of the House of Commons I have outlined in the two paragraphs above:

  1. Debate current issues
  2. Pass or decline new bills
  3. Be accessible to the public

Lions for Lambs

This week’s assignment is to answer the following four questions after watching the movie “Lions for Lambs”.

1. Lions for Lambs is a 2007 American drama film about the connection between a platoon of United States soldiers in Afghanistan, a U.S. senator, a reporter, and a California college professor. Explain how they are connected and what the soldiers are doing in Afghanistan?

First of all the US senator is connected with the platoon of US soldiers in the way that he has some kind degree in military strategy, and he has been a part of deciding the military action in which the platoon is joining. The reporter who interviews him is getting a major scoop from him; she gets the info about the military action the platoon is in – as it is happening! The Californian college professor is connected with the platoon because the two soldiers who falls/jumps to the mountain was his students and they joined the army after having a talk with him. Even though they said, it was not because of him I think the professor played a role in their decision-making. The soldiers are fighting the Taliban in Irak and trying to get control over territories.

 

2. The professor asks Todd to get involved. What can he do?

Todd has two options, either join the military or go to class. I hope that Todd chooses the latter and choose to get involved in a different way than being a soldier – that being a politician or a journalist. Despite the open end of the movie, I like to think that Todd went to all of his professor’s lectures for the rest of the semester.

I think Todd’s professor wants two things for Todd, for one he wants him to get an education and get a job while at the same time I think he wants Todd to join the army. That is what you can call a dilemma.

To get involved Todd does not have to join the military, there are countless ways to get involved – join the army is only one of them.

 

3. Is there a connection between social conditions, the welfare state and US involvement in wars?

In the movie, it was said that people who came from poor and dangerous neighborhoods joined the military. People who lived “the American Dream” in terms of having a nice home and the ability to live a great life as a child chose not to join.

According to MintPressNews who quotes an analysis of recruiting, low- and middle-income families are supplying far more recruits than families with an income of more than $60,000 p.a.

 

4. What is the current opinion of the American people regarding US engagement in wars?

The public, according to People Press, thinks that America does too much to figure out and solve world problems, and does too little at home base. This is perhaps connected to Americans seeing and thinking that the US’ power in the world is declining. Support for US engagement globally is at a historic low, and continuing to drop.

This graph pretty much sums it up. As you can see, 53% thinks that the US role today as a world leader is less important and powerful than 10 years ago.

I think that Americans, as most of the western world, are most focused on what happens at home and not what happens thousands of miles away. The military involvement can be seen as squandering of resources, they might think, “why don’t use those resources at home?”

 

 

Study Trip – Churchill War Rooms

In London we visited the Imperial War Museum, Churchill War Rooms which is a museum where one will find the underground complex where the British government had their command center, Cabinet War Rooms, during the second world war.

The Imperial War Museum has five branches, the Churchill War Rooms is one of them.

War Rooms is located in Westminster, and from August 1945 until the early 80s – only a limited number of people were allowed inside. In April 1984 the Cabinet War Rooms were opened to the public after the Imperial War Museum was tasked & asked to take over the site.

In 2005 Churchill War Rooms reopened after a major renovation.

The Command Rooms are interesting, it shows how the Englishmen worked and lived during the second world war. Strangely enough, when the war ended they just turned off the lights and went home – and the underground command center was not touched for decades.

The museum also features a giant timeline in the middle of the museum part. This is interesting, and you can choose different important dates throughout Churchill’s life.

The timeline

Picture source: http://cdn.ltstatic.com/2012/January/OY329739_942long.jpg

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Above is a picture of Churchill’s room

Picture source: Personal

Other sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Churchill_War_Rooms 22 january, 2015.

Study trip – British Museum

The British Museum is a really interesting museum. However most of it was not for me. Established in 1753, located in the center of London the museum houses approximately 8 million “works”. This is among the largest collection of human works is the world. The museum largely focuses on mummies, at least in the time-frame of our trip, another focus point is the roman empire, a third one is African history, none of which really tipped my curiosity.

One room really did, it was the money room. There you had the opportunity to see how money has changed over the years and what’s next.

For example I learned that the famous Nirvana cover (see below) really is a statement about how people are taught to seek and chase money from the day they’re born. The cover shows a little baby reaching for money without really knowing what it is.

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Nirvana cover

Picture: Private

Another interesting part of the room is the one about credit and debit cards. For me it’s easy to think that the world has had cards for hundreds of year, but really credit and debit cards really started in the 1950s, not really that long ago.

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Credit & debit cards

Photo: Private

Have you been to the British museum? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments below and as always; thanks for reading.