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Baby Boomer's social commentary on life in OUR sixties for those who rocked life in THE sixties.


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Ivanka Trump. The real deal or deal me out?

Long before Donald Trump’s name rose from the swamp to become a contender for President of the United States, I was wowed by his daughter, Ivanka. Having watched her on a couple of talk shows and read her early book The Trump Card several years ago, I was impressed with the articulate, beautiful daughter of the real estate mogul. She won me over with comments that were critical of the sense of entitlement that was common among her contemporaries. She denounced the expectation of reward without working for it.

Ivanka Trump is a young, beautiful, intelligent working mother of three children. Educated and articulate, she projects sensibility in the midst of mayhem. One could say she moves serenely in the eye of the hurricane. Her vocal support of women’s business development programs and childcare issues is commendable but is our perception representative of the reality? Let’s face it, Ivanka is someone who may have been working for Daddy’s businesses when she was still in a training bra, MC’ing his beauty contests and walking around construction sites in designer jeans and jewelry, but she lives in a parallel universe. Her life is and never has been anything like what we mere mortals experience.

Ivanka Trump was defensive about her father’s track record on women’s issues.

I first experienced doubts about my faith in her when Donald Trump was campaigning. Ivanka appeared immune to the obvious examples of his shortcomings, the blatant lies, the sexism, racism and the incongruities. His cabinet choices of old, white rich guys speaks volumes. Understandably, she knows criticism is part of the package but she didn’t seem to be relaying these concerns to her father. Or, more likely, he wouldn’t listen.

She was invited by German Chancellor Angela Merkel to be a guest panelist at the 2017 W20 Women’s Summit in Berlin recently. When called upon to comment on her father’s disregard for women and minorities, Ivanka understandably defended him by referring to his track record of promoting women within his own organization. The resulting hisses and boos from the audience knocked her off balance for a mere split second. Then, she switched into full-on offensive mode, disregarding the perception of the majority of women.

The truth is self-evident. Trump does not hold women in high regard with the possible exception of his exceptional daughter. Notwithstanding the position of power held by Kelley Anne Conway within his organization, Donald Trump’s track record is dismal and verifiable. My opinion of Ivanka dropped like a rock when I witnessed her reaction to the criticism. When I saw the horror on her face at the suggestion he was a misogynist and how she immediately slipped into her own fantasy-based world of daddy-worship, I was disappointed, to say the least. Perhaps I was naive in hoping she would acknowledge he needs to listen to the criticism and work on improving his attitude and behaviours.

Trump’s statement “no one in the world has more respect for women than I do” is meaningless. His lingo, always delivered in sweeping superlatives is not backed up by fact and affirmative action. I was hoping Ivanka would be the voice of reason whispering sense into the ear of an unreasonable man. What I saw was life viewed by a disillusioned woman on the other side of a gold-plated one-way mirror. And it doesn’t look good for all the other women who are on our side. If we can reach her, we can only hope she will reach him. But I wouldn’t bet on it.

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Who doesn’t love the circus?

circus2This is not about the new Trump administration, although they do share the elephant logo and are equally prone to bizarre acts of illusion and deception. It’s about the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey variety of circus, which will soon be phased out because the high costs of production could not be recouped in ticket sales. I may be in the minority but I am not disappointed to see the end of circuses. As a child, going to the circus was never a fun and magical day for me. The acrobats made me nervous and the clowns weren’t particularly funny. But the thing that upset me the most, in fact it made me feel ill, was the undignified treatment of the animals. It was heartbreaking to see lions and tigers penned up in small cages until it was their turn to be whipped into doing stupid tricks. Elephants being coerced from the time they were babies to perform undignified stunts in silly costumes for the amusement of the popcorn-eating public made me hate the entire spectacle.

I'll never understand how anyone can find this entertaining.

I’ll never understand how anyone can find this entertaining.

Cirque de Soleil occupies a slightly different position on the entertainment spectrum than animal acts. Like many other people, I have marveled at the performers’ seemingly impossible feats of athleticism in stunning costumes that dazzle and amaze. Cirque’s feats still make me nervous but they don’t evoke the kind of discomfort and even stress I felt watching old-time circus performers. The Barnum & Bailey promoters blamed the loss of elephants from their lineup as being the cause of diminished attendance but, who really knows? All I know is that the time for eliminating the use of animals for the entertainment of the ticket-buying public is long overdue. Hopefully, many zoos and marine parks will be next. There are more natural and dignified ways of protecting wildlife than putting them on display doing tricks for our amusement. We are not amused and the fact the circus is not coming to town is a cause for celebration.

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Something is rotten in the state of America

The Friday night debates are live and uncensored.

The Friday night debates are live and uncensored.

After watching my usual Real Time With Bill Maher on HBO last Friday night, I went to bed with a pain in my stomach that hasn’t gone away. His guests included Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, Ana Marie Cox, Ian Bremmer, Jack Kingston and America Ferrera. Lt. General Flynn has served in the Middle East; he’s educated; he seems like an intelligent person. But he’s a Trump supporter and one of his advisors. So is Jack Kingston who was the U.S. Representative for Georgia’s 1st congressional district in Southeast Georgia, serving from 1993 to 2015. He is a member of the Republican Party and was part of the House leadership (2002–06) when he served as vice-chair of the Republican Conference.

Does being a Republican automatically delete from memory any sense of honesty, justice or integrity? To be fair, Bill Maher’s panels always present a balanced cross-section of opinion with representation from the liberal Democrats, the conservative Republicans and one or two media types who swing either way depending on the argument, and who seem to have a greater ability to think clearly. It wasn’t just Real Time with Bill Maher that made me feel ill. It was the ongoing train wreck that culminated in the Republican National Convention and the associated lies, fear-mongering and lack of constructive, responsible thinking.

Georgia's Jack Kingston refused to acknowledge the difficulties encountered by voters in low income neighbourhoods.

Georgia’s Jack Kingston refused to acknowledge the difficulties encountered by voters in low-income neighbourhoods.

On Real Time With Bill Maher Jack Kingston defiantly refused to believe America Ferrara’s descriptions of difficulties encountered by low-income minorities and other Americans when they try to vote. She described long lines in poor neighbourhoods and voting stations that closed before everyone in line had a chance to cast a vote. Kingston sat there with a stupid grin on his face insinuating she was exaggerating, like a old-timey politician who has no grasp of reality.

It’s tempting for Canadians to get all sanctimonious and thank the powers that be that we’re Canadian but as our closest neighbour and friend, United States politics has major ripple effects on Canada. One thing we can be thankful for is that elections in Canada are limited by law to a time frame of several weeks, not the never-ending, constant circus controlled by the highest bidder that American elections have become. Hillary Clinton is also not above reproach. She’s flip-flopped on policy in the past depending on which way the wind’s blowing and her brand of politics has proven to be past its prime.

What if Trump suddenly decides Canadians are also undesirable aliens? Isolationism and bigotry are not desirable platforms in today’s complex world. His policies reek of what Hitler and Mussolini stood for before and during World War II and look what happened to neighbouring Poland, Czechoslovakia, Russia, Austria and other countries. The Brexit referendum outcome is a sobering example of what happens when people think “that could never happen here”. Pass the Pepto Bismol. I’m feeling sick and scared.

Stop and insanity. Hopefully reason will prevail.

Stop the insanity. Hopefully reason will prevail.

Footnote: A friend sent me the following open letter from Michael Moore:

5 Reasons Why Trump Will Win

Friends:

I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but I gave it to you straight last summer when I told you that Donald Trump would be the Republican nominee for president. And now I have even more awful, depressing news for you: Donald J. Trump is going to win in November. This wretched, ignorant, dangerous part-time clown and full time sociopath is going to be our next president. President Trump. Go ahead and say the words, ‘cause you’ll be saying them for the next four years: “PRESIDENT TRUMP.”

Never in my life have I wanted to be proven wrong more than I do right now.

I can see what you’re doing right now. You’re shaking your head wildly – “No, Mike, this won’t happen!” Unfortunately, you are living in a bubble that comes with an adjoining echo chamber where you and your friends are convinced the American people are not going to elect an idiot for president. You alternate between being appalled at him and laughing at him because of his latest crazy comment or his embarrassingly narcissistic stance on everything because everything is about him. And then you listen to Hillary and you behold our very first female president, someone the world respects, someone who is whip-smart and cares about kids, who will continue the Obama legacy because that is what the American people clearly want! Yes! Four more years of this!

You need to exit that bubble right now. You need to stop living in denial and face the truth which you know deep down is very, very real. Trying to soothe yourself with the facts – “77% of the electorate are women, people of color, young adults under 35 and Trump can’t win a majority of any of them!” – or logic – “people aren’t going to vote for a buffoon or against their own best interests!” – is your brain’s way of trying to protect you from trauma. Like when you hear a loud noise on the street and you think, “oh, a tire just blew out,” or, “wow, who’s playing with firecrackers?” because you don’t want to think you just heard someone being shot with a gun. It’s the same reason why all the initial news and eyewitness reports on 9/11 said “a small plane accidentally flew into the World Trade Center.” We want to – we need to – hope for the best because, frankly, life is already a shit show and it’s hard enough struggling to get by from paycheck to paycheck. We can’t handle much more bad news. So our mental state goes to default when something scary is actually, truly happening. The first people plowed down by the truck in Nice spent their final moments on earth waving at the driver whom they thought had simply lost control of his truck, trying to tell him that he jumped the curb: “Watch out!,” they shouted. “There are people on the sidewalk!”

Well, folks, this isn’t an accident. It is happening. And if you believe Hillary Clinton is going to beat Trump with facts and smarts and logic, then you obviously missed the past year of 56 primaries and caucuses where 16 Republican candidates tried that and every kitchen sink they could throw at Trump and nothing could stop his juggernaut. As of today, as things stand now, I believe this is going to happen – and in order to deal with it, I need you first to acknowledge it, and then maybe, just maybe, we can find a way out of the mess we’re in.

Don’t get me wrong. I have great hope for the country I live in. Things are better. The left has won the cultural wars. Gays and lesbians can get married. A majority of Americans now take the liberal position on just about every polling question posed to them: Equal pay for women – check. Abortion should be legal – check. Stronger environmental laws – check. More gun control – check. Legalize marijuana – check. A huge shift has taken place – just ask the socialist who won 22 states this year. And there is no doubt in my mind that if people could vote from their couch at home on their X-box or PlayStation, Hillary would win in a landslide.

But that is not how it works in America. People have to leave the house and get in line to vote. And if they live in poor, Black or Hispanic neighborhoods, they not only have a longer line to wait in, everything is being done to literally stop them from casting a ballot. So in most elections it’s hard to get even 50% to turn out to vote. And therein lies the problem for November – who is going to have the most motivated, most inspired voters show up to vote? You know the answer to this question. Who’s the candidate with the most rabid supporters? Whose crazed fans are going to be up at 5 AM on Election Day, kicking ass all day long, all the way until the last polling place has closed, making sure every Tom, Dick and Harry (and Bob and Joe and Billy Bob and Billy Joe and Billy Bob Joe) has cast his ballot?  That’s right. That’s the high level of danger we’re in. And don’t fool yourself — no amount of compelling Hillary TV ads, or outfacting him in the debates or Libertarians siphoning votes away from Trump is going to stop his mojo.

Here are the 5 reasons Trump is going to win:

  1. Midwest Math, or Welcome to Our Rust Belt Brexit.  I believe Trump is going to focus much of his attention on the four blue states in the rustbelt of the upper Great Lakes – Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Four traditionally Democratic states – but each of them have elected a Republican governor since 2010 (only Pennsylvania has now finally elected a Democrat). In the Michigan primary in March, more Michiganders came out to vote for the Republicans (1.32 million) that the Democrats (1.19 million). Trump is ahead of Hillary in the latest polls in Pennsylvania and tied with her in Ohio. Tied? How can the race be this close after everything Trump has said and done? Well maybe it’s because he’s said (correctly) that the Clintons’ support of NAFTA helped to destroy the industrial states of the Upper Midwest. Trump is going to hammer Clinton on this and her support of TPP and other trade policies that have royally screwed the people of these four states. When Trump stood in the shadow of a Ford Motor factory during the Michigan primary, he threatened the corporation that if they did indeed go ahead with their planned closure of that factory and move it to Mexico, he would slap a 35% tariff on any Mexican-built cars shipped back to the United States. It was sweet, sweet music to the ears of the working class of Michigan, and when he tossed in his threat to Apple that he would force them to stop making their iPhones in China and build them here in America, well, hearts swooned and Trump walked away with a big victory that should have gone to the governor next-door, John Kasich.

From Green Bay to Pittsburgh, this, my friends, is the middle of England – broken, depressed, struggling, the smokestacks strewn across the countryside with the carcass of what we use to call the Middle Class. Angry, embittered working (and nonworking) people who were lied to by the trickle-down of Reagan and abandoned by Democrats who still try to talk a good line but are really just looking forward to rub one out with a lobbyist from Goldman Sachs who’ll write them nice big check before leaving the room. What happened in the UK with Brexit is going to happen here. Elmer Gantry shows up looking like Boris Johnson and just says whatever shit he can make up to convince the masses that this is their chance! To stick to ALL of them, all who wrecked their American Dream! And now The Outsider, Donald Trump, has arrived to clean house! You don’t have to agree with him! You don’t even have to like him! He is your personal Molotov cocktail to throw right into the center of the bastards who did this to you! SEND A MESSAGE! TRUMP IS YOUR MESSENGER!

And this is where the math comes in. In 2012, Mitt Romney lost by 64 electoral votes. Add up the electoral votes cast by Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. It’s 64. All Trump needs to do to win is to carry, as he’s expected to do, the swath of traditional red states from Idaho to Georgia (states that’ll never vote for Hillary Clinton), and then he just needs these four rust belt states. He doesn’t need Florida. He doesn’t need Colorado or Virginia. Just Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. And that will put him over the top. This is how it will happen in November.

  1. The Last Stand of the Angry White Man. Our male-dominated, 240-year run of the USA is coming to an end. A woman is about to take over! How did this happen?! On our watch! There were warning signs, but we ignored them. Nixon, the gender traitor, imposing Title IX on us, the rule that said girls in school should get an equal chance at playing sports. Then they let them fly commercial jets. Before we knew it, Beyoncé stormed on the field at this year’s Super Bowl (our game!) with an army of Black Women, fists raised, declaring that our domination was hereby terminated! Oh, the humanity!

That’s a small peek into the mind of the Endangered White Male. There is a sense that the power has slipped out of their hands, that their way of doing things is no longer how things are done. This monster, the “Feminazi,”the thing that as Trump says, “bleeds through her eyes or wherever she bleeds,” has conquered us — and now, after having had to endure eight years of a black man telling us what to do, we’re supposed to just sit back and take eight years of a woman bossing us around? After that it’ll be eight years of the gays in the White House! Then the transgenders! You can see where this is going. By then animals will have been granted human rights and a fuckin’ hamster is going to be running the country. This has to stop!

  1. The Hillary Problem. Can we speak honestly, just among ourselves? And before we do, let me state, I actually like Hillary – a lot – and I think she has been given a bad rap she doesn’t deserve. But her vote for the Iraq War made me promise her that I would never vote for her again. To date, I haven’t broken that promise. For the sake of preventing a proto-fascist from becoming our commander-in-chief, I’m breaking that promise. I sadly believe Clinton will find a way to get us in some kind of military action. She’s a hawk, to the right of Obama. But Trump’s psycho finger will be on The Button, and that is that. Done and done.

Let’s face it: Our biggest problem here isn’t Trump – it’s Hillary. She is hugely unpopular — nearly 70% of all voters think she is untrustworthy and dishonest. She represents the old way of politics, not really believing in anything other than what can get you elected. That’s why she fights against gays getting married one moment, and the next she’s officiating a gay marriage. Young women are among her biggest detractors, which has to hurt considering it’s the sacrifices and the battles that Hillary and other women of her generation endured so that this younger generation would never have to be told by the Barbara Bushes of the world that they should just shut up and go bake some cookies. But the kids don’t like her, and not a day goes by that a millennial doesn’t tell me they aren’t voting for her. No Democrat, and certainly no independent, is waking up on November 8th excited to run out and vote for Hillary the way they did the day Obama became president or when Bernie was on the primary ballot. The enthusiasm just isn’t there. And because this election is going to come down to just one thing — who drags the most people out of the house and gets them to the polls — Trump right now is in the catbird seat.

  1. The Depressed Sanders Vote. Stop fretting about Bernie’s supporters not voting for Clinton – we’re voting for Clinton! The polls already show that more Sanders voters will vote for Hillary this year than the number of Hillary primary voters in ’08 who then voted for Obama. This is not the problem. The fire alarm that should be going off is that while the average Bernie backer will drag him/herself to the polls that day to somewhat reluctantly vote for Hillary, it will be what’s called a “depressed vote” – meaning the voter doesn’t bring five people to vote with her. He doesn’t volunteer 10 hours in the month leading up to the election. She never talks in an excited voice when asked why she’s voting for Hillary. A depressed voter. Because, when you’re young, you have zero tolerance for phonies and BS. Returning to the Clinton/Bush era for them is like suddenly having to pay for music, or using MySpace or carrying around one of those big-ass portable phones. They’re not going to vote for Trump; some will vote third party, but many will just stay home. Hillary Clinton is going to have to do something to give them a reason to support her  — and picking a moderate, bland-o, middle of the road old white guy as her running mate is not the kind of edgy move that tells millenials that their vote is important to Hillary. Having two women on the ticket – that was an exciting idea. But then Hillary got scared and has decided to play it safe. This is just one example of how she is killing the youth vote.
  1. The Jesse Ventura Effect. Finally, do not discount the electorate’s ability to be mischievous or underestimate how any millions fancy themselves as closet anarchists once they draw the curtain and are all alone in the voting booth. It’s one of the few places left in society where there are no security cameras, no listening devices, no spouses, no kids, no boss, no cops, there’s not even a friggin’ time limit. You can take as long as you need in there and no one can make you do anything. You can push the button and vote a straight party line, or you can write in Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. There are no rules. And because of that, and the anger that so many have toward a broken political system, millions are going to vote for Trump not because they agree with him, not because they like his bigotry or ego, but just because they can. Just because it will upset the apple cart and make mommy and daddy mad. And in the same way like when you’re standing on the edge of Niagara Falls and your mind wonders for a moment what would that feel like to go over that thing, a lot of people are going to love being in the position of puppetmaster and plunking down for Trump just to see what that might look like. Remember back in the ‘90s when the people of Minnesota elected a professional wrestler as their governor? They didn’t do this because they’re stupid or thought that Jesse Ventura was some sort of statesman or political intellectual. They did so just because they could. Minnesota is one of the smartest states in the country. It is also filled with people who have a dark sense of humor — and voting for Ventura was their version of a good practical joke on a sick political system. This is going to happen again with Trump.

Coming back to the hotel after appearing on Bill Maher’s Republican Convention special this week on HBO, a man stopped me. “Mike,” he said, “we have to vote for Trump. We HAVE to shake things up.” That was it. That was enough for him. To “shake things up.” President Trump would indeed do just that, and a good chunk of the electorate would like to sit in the bleachers and watch that reality show.

(Next week I will post my thoughts on Trump’s Achilles Heel and how I think he can be beat.)

ALSO: http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/michael-moores-5-reasons-why-trump-will-win

Yours,
Michael Moore

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Trump’s playing to the lowest common denominator . . . the non-thinkers

Trump's vision of a secure America is tragically retro.

Trump’s vision of a secure America is tragically retro. Has he learned nothing?

We’ve all been watching the bizarre reality side-show runup for presidential candidates in the United States and it’s getting scarier every day. I’ve resisted commenting on a political situation in which I have no say, but the results could have major implications for Canada. With the leading Republican candidate promoting building border walls (shades of East/West Berlin and the Iron Curtain), halting immigration (despite the fact two of his wives have been immigrants) demolishing free trade and reinstituting discrimination and racism, we have the potential for having a very nasty neighbour living next door to a polar-opposite Canada. Donald Trump is playing to the basest feelings of frustration and disappointment with the existing political system. His constituency is strongly composed of poorly educated, economically challenged voters who are looking for reassurance and need someone who will give them some kind of vision, regardless of how fascist it may be. Sound familiar? And his competitors’ platforms are equally insane.

Donald Trump and his brand of Republicanism has turned out to be Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders’ greatest asset. While Clinton and Sanders may not be everyone’s cup of tea, at least they seem to have a modicum of sanity on their side. Unfortunately, it’s the sane majority of voters who are not being heard. Once again, the tail’s wagging the dog. We can only hope.

Canadian4As an average Canadian on the outside looking in, I’m nervous about the prospect of a Trump-led government being our nearest neighbour. With the possibility of Putin and his armies marching over the north pole into Canada and the Americans building walls to keep visible minorities, Mexicans and Canadians out, our borders are going to be squeezed in a vice between Communism and Fascism. And we know what that did to Poland and Czechoslovakia many years ago.

Bring 'em on. . . bienvenue a Canada.

Bring ’em on . . . welcome to Canada on the bridge to real freedom!

The upside is that Canada can expect a mass exodus of “daft-dodgers” as intelligent Americans reject the Republican insanity and move to Canada. And we’ll be better off for it, just as the anti-war draft-dodgers of the sixties enriched our country over the long-term. Just leave your guns behind; we don’t get your crazy preoccupation with guns and killing each other. And we believe in taking care of our fellow human beings so you won’t have to mortgage your home to get a hip replacement.

In fact, I look forward to having Bill Maher or Jon Stewart living in my neighbourhood and broadcasting from Toronto or Vancouver. The brain drain will flow north for a change and enrich our businesses, educational institutions, professional services and fatten our already fat, solid Canadian banks. Canadians should rethink financing the entire cost of the bridge between Windsor and Detroit, affectionately known as “the bridge to nowhere” since Michigan refused to pay its share? Hell, we’d be happy to pay. The United States’ shame could be Canada’s gain.

 

 


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What would Steve Jobs say?

VEven Steve Jobs recognized the importance of disconnecting from electronics.

Even Steve Jobs recognized the importance of disconnecting from electronics to recharge.

Arianna Huffington made an interesting comment on Real Time With Bill Maher this week that echoed something I had been giving a lot of thought to lately. All the hype around the launch of the iWatch left her wondering what Steve Jobs would have thought about Apple’s latest release of something “we didn’t know we needed”.

In an earlier blog posting (Feeling uninspired, take a nap) I championed the merits of down-time. Experience has proven that we get our best ideas and think more creatively during periods of idleness or quiet time. Our brains need time to recharge and Steve Jobs recognized this by meditating regularly. He credited his Zen time for being responsible for clearing the way for his best ideas. We have to wonder what his reaction would be to his company’s release of a 24/7 gadget that you strap to your wrist to ensure that you’re absolutely never out of touch. Huffington went on to say that apparently many people actually text while having sex. While I could never claim to be talented or dexterous enough to accomplish that feat, those who can will delight in the hands-free benefits of the iWatch.

phone1I have a cell phone which I rarely use and I venture to say my life is as full and rewarding as those who are on a smart phone drip. I bought the cheapest plan available and will never in my lifetime use all the minutes I’ve accumulated. It completely baffles me why people have to be constantly texting or talking in the course of their everyday activities. I don’t hesitate to ask friends to put their iPhones away during lunch or dinner. It annoys the hell out of me that people treat their smart phones as life-lines, afraid their heart will stop beating if they aren’t immediately aware of what their son/daughter/husband/wife/grandchild is thinking or doing every minute of the day. And don’t get me started on driving while texting or holding a smart phone.

No one can deny the many benefits of having smart phones and I acknowledge that. However, the constant buzz and busyness of 24/7 electronic communication must surely be robbing humanity of that vital Zen time we all need to function as healthy beings. When I see people walking while texting or talking on cell phones, I can’t help feeling sad that they’re missing the sound of the birds, feeling snow flakes on their eyelashes, enjoying deep breaths of fresh air, marveling at the stunning contrast of colours between green treetops and blue sky or simply daydreaming.

thriveDo we really need to know our heartbeat or how many calories we’re burning every minute of the day. Even Stephen Jobs, with his obsessive Asperger’s-like behaviours allowed time in his schedule to disconnect. And Arianna Huffington has written a book about the subject, “Thrive “.   Are we becoming a society of zombies enslaved by our electronic devices as if they were life itself? Sadly and tragically, the answer is yes. But I’ve chosen to opt out and I really don’t think I’m missing a thing.

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Two out, one on base

Second out. Jon Stewart is just my kinda guy.

Second out. Jon Stewart is just my kinda guy.

One out. Stephen Colbert. I miss him already.

One out. Stephen Colbert. I miss him already.

The holy trinity of American political satire is crumbling. Now that Stephen Colbert has taken a new job as a legitimate talk-show host starting in September and Jon Stewart of The Daily Show has announced he’s ending his long-running show, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Real Time’s Bill Maher doesn’t get any weird ideas about following suit.

Many of us today look to political satire for the straight goods on how our politicians are monumentally screwing up. What should be an honourable profession as a politician has turned into a gang of self-serving pigs-at-the-trough that has the rest of us frustrated, angry and feeling helpless to do anything about it. Hence, the success of political satire. All we can do is hope that our elected officials are watching and that perhaps it pricks their conscience.

Long live Rick Mercer.

Long live our own Rick Mercer.

In Canada we have our brilliant and entertaining Rick Mercer along with the 22 Minutes gang. These east-coasters bring a special kind of humour to their observations and they’ve become an important voice for Canadian culture. I miss the fact that Mary Walsh isn’t as visible as when she was a regular on This Hour Has 22 Minutes but I know she’s watching everything from wherever she is with a raging indignation and challenging someone somewhere.

I love political satire. The Brits are brilliant at it; Canadians come second (thanks to our genius Maritimers) and Americans third (they don’t always get the concept of irony). Politicians are such easy targets; they never fail to perform to the lowest standard expected of them and they continue to dazzle us with their greed and stupidity. I know it’s not an easy job which always makes me wonder why we select stupid people to do it. All that’s required is good hair, generic good looks and the ability to baffle us with rhetoric. And for serving a mere six years in office, they are rewarded with hefty pensions for life, unlike the rest of us who fight to retain every nickel and dime of pension they deign to toss into our caps after a life-time of hard work.

Please Bill. Promise you won't ever leave me.

Please, Bill. Promise you won’t ever leave me.

My lament may not be as noble as Marvin Gaye’s Abraham, Martin and John but nonetheless I’m feeling incredibly bereft. We’re losing two good ones and without Stephen and Jon who’s going to give us the straight goods on the circus that is American politics. Assuming Bill Maher regularly reads my blog (doesn’t he?), perhaps my plea will be successful in discouraging him from stepping down. Mary Walsh, come out, come out wherever you are! And long live Rick Mercer.  It’s getting lonely and we need more voices in the political asylum.

For further insights into the Boomer perspective on business, fashion, mind and body, book and movie reviews, order my new book, BOOMERBROADcast. It makes a great hostess or birthday gift as well as just a fun read.

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The joy of menopause . . . the honest-to-goodness truth

The book begins slowly and builds to a multiple orgasm at the end.

The book begins slowly and builds to a multiple orgasm at the end.

Last week as I was watching Bill Maher on HBO, he invited author, speaker and performance artist Sandra Tsing Loh to join the panel at the half-way point in the show. This is usually when the new guest often has a book to promote. More than once I’ve enjoyed this part of the show so much I’ve gone on-line and ordered the book immediately and that’s exactly what happened when I downloaded Tsing Loh’s The Madwoman in the Volvo on to my Kindle before the show was even over.

Subtitled My Year of Raging Hormones, the book describes Loh’s midlife struggle with combining motherhood, overseeing an aging father, a marriage breakup and new relationship and depression while entering that dicey time of life known as menopause. She describes her daily life in terms any working woman can relate to. Driving children to various functions in the midst of domestic chaos, stressing about work deadlines, trying to keep a marriage viable with creative meals and date nights and coping with a difficult aging parent are life scenarios most women can relate to. Loh’s situation is further complicated by having two children who are still in elementary school at an age when most women are seeing their progeny off to college. She finds herself ill-equipped to deal with the noise, the demands and the sheer physical energy required to keep all the plates spinning while she’s experiencing hot flashes, depression, anger, resentment and loss of libido.

maxineAs I started reading I found myself thinking, “This is just another one of those books about how life is demanding, not always rewarding and sometimes you just want to give up. Ho hum, nothing different here.” What makes this book different and so incredibly special is her stark honesty about her shortcomings and coping mechanisms. We can sympathize and empathize with her often hilarious descriptions of dealing with her 88-year-old Chinese father’s issues and the day-to-day challenges of family, work and marriage. Things really picked up in the latter half of the book where she looks deeper into the harsh truths about her own makeup and how she turns things around. She exposes her barnacles and gives us permission to do whatever works for each of us to get rid of them and find our joy. From the halfway point the book just gets better, moving with a nice rhythm, picking up speed and climaxing at the end in a wonderful multiple orgasm of wisdom and support. It’s almost as if you should read the book from back to front.

northrupHappily, The Madwoman in the Volvo is not encumbered with pages and pages of footnotes and bibliography material. It is not a rehash of other people’s research and studies. The only major book she references  is Dr. Christiane Northrup’s The Wisdom of Menopause, a hefty tome that is universally read and respected as the definitive word on menopause issues.  Loh’s book is a wonderfully subjective, humorous recounting of her own experience and recommendations. We are not told to choke down eight glasses of slimy green liquid every day, subject our bodies to yoga and pilates or live on a diet of kale, broccoli and boiled chicken. In fact, trying to add these disciplines to our already-busy lives can often add to our stress levels when we’re barely holding ourselves together.

dwarfsOne of the most interesting things I learned is that our estrogen-fuelled years between puberty and menopause are actually the “unusual” years because we are pumped up with a temporary supply of  hormones (estrogen, progesterone) to cope with mating, child-bearing, mothering, and nurturing. When we hit menopause, our hormone levels actually return to where they were before puberty so we are in fact once again our authentic selves. That’s why she maintains there’s nothing wrong with telling the kids to make their own lunch, leave home or simply grow up. She gives us permission to get more sleep, hire help around the house if we want to and treat ourselves with a little TLC.  Don’t beat yourself up because you’re a few pounds overweight – after all, we didn’t have waistlines when we were ten years old either. After all those years of putting everyone else first, menopause brings us back to square one where it’s natural and not unhealthy to make ourselves a priority. Isn’t that wonderful? No need to feel guilty.  We’re vindicated. Girlfriend—you nailed it. I’d give Madwoman in the Volvo 10 out of 10.